Teaser Tuesday 2/21/2017: “Invasion of the Tearling”

So the astute reader, or at least those without short-term memory loss, may remember that a few weeks ago, before I got all sidetracked by Shards‘s unexpected nomination as a Pitch Perfect Pick over at Undeground Book Reviews (which it won — thanks everybody!), I mentioned that I had started working on my next project.  That means it’s time to get back to the work-in-progress teasers, which in turn means it’s time to get back to the Teaser Tuesdays for what I’m currently reading.  Because who wants to just see teasers from an unpublished novel?  No one!

This week, the random book picker in my Moon+ Reader ebook-reading application told me it was time to read Invasion of The Tearling, by Erika Johansen.


“Is that lava, or did I leave the grill on?”


Now, I will cop to not having great expectations for this book, given that I sort of, um, hated the first one.  A lot.  But I got both books one and two when they were on sale, and, well, I knew the day would come eventually when Moon+ Reader would tell me I had to once again confront the Tearling, the Mort, and the fact that I should only buy books in a series one at a time, no matter how cheap they are.

That day is now.

The Second Mort Invasion had all the makings of a slaughter. On one side was the vastly superior Mort army, armed with the best weapons available in the New World and commanded by a man who would balk at nothing. On the other was the Tear army, one-fourth the size and bearing weapons of cheaply forged iron that would break under the impact of good steel. The odds were not so much lopsided as catastrophic. There seemed no way for the Tearling to escape disaster.

The Tearling as a Military Nation, CALLOW THE MARTYR

Will the Tearling escape disaster?  Can odds really be “catastrophic”?  Will the commander of the Mort army really balk at nothing, nothing at all, have you no decency sir?!  I guess I’ll find out, if I manage to finish the book this time.  Meanwhile, I’ll amuse myself by pretending the Mort army is made up of “winners” of the “Mort of the Month“, a list of stupid, uncouth, underpowered, or just ridiculous comic book characters.  Not that most or all comic book characters aren’t ridiculous, when you get right down to it; but they’re ridiculous in different ways.  (Except of course for Dazzler, who is awesome.)

Anyway, back to the novel I’m working on now, Father’s Books!  This is the last of the novels I originally wrote back in the 1990s, falling between Night Watchman and Crows, chronologically, if I remember correctly.  Not a splatterpunk gore-fest like Night Watchman or Long Before Dawn, and lacking most of the fantasy elements of Television ManFather’s Books is, essentially, a ghost story.  Essentially.

He reached the laundry alcove without succumbing to the temptation to look over his shoulder.  The small work area was cluttered and dirty, generic powdered detergent strewn across the tops of the machines like the detritus of a week-long cocaine bender, small tacky splotches of generic blue fabric softener collecting hair and lint and dust that would never again float freely on the soft cellar winds.

Unlike the other 1990s novels I dusted off, edited, and eventually published, I am not making any attempt to update the time frame in this one, which I can definitively state (because at one point someone looks at a calendar) is 1997.  But you can tell the general era just from the technology.  Some of the characters have computers, but they don’t really do much with them; a few of the characters have cell phones, but not many, and no one is texting, iMessaging, using Facebook, posting photos of ghosts on Instagram, or doing any of the other things they would do on their mobile devices if they were having these experiences in the modern age.  There are even a few rotary phones still kicking around!

The main reason for leaving Father’s Books set in the past isn’t that I would need to update virtually every scene were people are off on their own doing something dangerous and/or stupid to account for the fact that help would just be a cell phone call or text message away; it’s because two of the major characters are reporters for local small-town newspapers, and they go out doing investigatory and reporterish things, which doesn’t seem to be going on much anymore, in these days of wafer-thin local rags that get all their content from the Associated Press or other outlets, or from online sources.  I suppose I could have changed them to bloggers or something, but, ehhhh, not the same.  So they, and their story, will stay in the time capsule of 20 years ago, along with Furbies, Tamagotchi, Beanie Babies, NSYNC, Rachel haircuts, etc.

And yes, even though I was (obviously) there for the 90s, I had to go back and look up those fads and trends.  But at least I mostly remembered them once I saw them.


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