ReMade episode 12 season 1: Modern history

Modern history Book Cover Modern history
ReMade #1.12
Carrie Harris
YA, Science fiction
Serialbox
November 30 2016
e-book
30

Cole is what you’d call a “salt of the earth” type. He works hard, loves his girl, and feels best when he’s being useful – which makes being injured particularly frustrating. When the others go off exploring and leave him behind again, he’s finally had enough. With Naveah as his accomplice he sets off to find answers of his own, and ends up learning more than he wanted.

We really haven't seen a lot of Cole yet, have we? He set himself distinctly apart from the rest of the teens with a remark or two several episodes ago, but then got injured and became sort of background as crazy things happened to the others.  Here he is, though.

...And he's still somewhat immobilized, but getting better. Of course, Nevaeh is helping out, possibly oblivious to how demeaning he finds it to depend on a lady's help.

Yeah, Cole is not quite like the other ReMade kids. In some ways, he seems even farther removed than Umta. Because at least with Umta it's quite obvious she doesn't match the template, but Cole - well, it takes at least a few sentences in conversation to realise what kind of world he's from.

In this episode he gets to stretch his legs, at last, and a museum is discovered in the mystery town. Well, probably a museum.  Cole might be the only one able to confirm that's exactly what it is.

May studies everything on display, of course, and a few questions about their situation receive definite answers - though there isn't quite enough information yet to be genuinely helpful.

I feel like they're actually closing in on a big "aha!", though, which is thrilling. Three episodes left, now...!

ReMade episode 11 season 1: We’re dead in this ghost town

We're dead in this ghost town Book Cover We're dead in this ghost town
ReMade #1.11
E. C. Myers
YA, Science fiction
Serialbox
November 23 2016
e-book
35

In hopes of finding civilization, people, answers, the group journeys to the city whose lights they’ve been able to see from miles away. But group dynamics can be just as hard to navigate as a new city – especially when death and dragons are involved.

Oh, that might be the vaguest episode blurb so far! So I'll be more explicit - this ReMade episode brings us back to Loki's story, which is about as crushing as we were led to expect. In the present, Loki explores the strange city, giving appropriate names to things that look a lot like dragons. 

Accompanying him is Holden, who actually becomes a more interesting character when we get to see him interacting with anyone who isn't Seyah, about things that aren't Seyah. It's refreshing.

This is one of my favourite episodes so far! Probably because I just really like creepy, abandoned cities.  This one doesn't immediately feel like a set (like where Inez and Teddy came from), but there's definitely a sense that we can't take anything for granted, just yet.  My brain keeps coming up with wacky explanations for the whole situation, but none that matches all of the known facts. 

Like, when Inez thought she figured out that everyone died at the same time, did anyone take Umta into account? Or are there more secrets regarding her background too, perhaps?

We're getting close to the end now, and I'm definitely feeling the tension!

ReMade episode 10 season 1: Mirror of fate

Mirror of fate Book Cover Mirror of fate
Remade #1.10
Gwenda Bond
YA, Science fiction
Serialbox
November 16 2016
e-book
29

Seyah makes a discovery to the delight of the whole group and gains some time to reflect. With her dreams of Broadway dashed with her untimely death, she can only wonder what the future holds…and if a special someone has already been cast as her co-star.

This week's episode of ReMade has Seyah's POV! Finally - I've been waiting for this since the first episode.  Once a character is tagged as the pretty girl they run a severe risk of becoming plain spoiled brat with no other traits - it happens so often - but of course ReMade didn't go that way. Seyah is an actual person, yay! We get to see some of her family and dreams for what she thought would be her future.

...And she's not a person who could have predicted precicely how she'd react to Inez.

The whole episode definitely has an air of calm before the storm. There are only five episodes left - exactly what kind of storm is brewing?

-

Oh, remember how Seyah and Holden were performing in A Midsummer Night's Dream? Since ReMade began, I've read the play. See, reading leads to more reading!

The lost child of Lychford, by Paul Cornell

The lost child of Lychford Book Cover The lost child of Lychford
Lychford #2
Paul Cornell
Fantasy
Tor.com
November 22 2016
e-book
136

It’s December in the English village of Lychford – the first Christmas since an evil conglomerate tried to force open the borders between our world and… another.

Which means it’s Lizzie’s first Christmas as Reverend of St. Martin’s. Which means more stress, more expectation, more scrutiny by the congregation. Which means… well, business as usual, really.

Until the apparition of a small boy finds its way to Lizzie in the church. Is he a ghost? A vision? Something else? Whatever the truth, our trio of witches (they don’t approve of “coven”) are about to face their toughest battle, yet!

We're going back to Lychford! Because, of course, this is not our first visit - or it shouldn't be.  You can absolutely read The lost child of Lychford as a stand-alone and be quite happy with that, but I recommend starting with Witches of Lychfordanyway. Because Lychford is worth the time spent there.

Lychford is home to a coven of witches. One of them, Autumn,  runs a magic supply shop - I can't help but envision the shop from The Craft, but it's not a good comparison - I don't think Autumn would lecture her neighbours about magic morality when they were only trying to buy a scented candle or some other knick-knack.   Mostly, Autumn spends her time wishing a romcom could just hurry up and happen to her.

Lizzie is a witch, but mainly a reverend. It's a long story, but she's quite clear-headed, thank you. Except when she isn't. In this story, Lizzie meets a ghost, and almost loses her Christmas spirit in attempting to figure out what the ghost is all about. 

Um, yeah, she might lose rather more than just her Christmas.

And then there's Judith, who I think is awesome, largely because she's old and crotchety and belligerent and simply not nice.  She appears to work for Autumn in her shop, though in reality, Autumn is Judith's apprentice.  But Judith isn't very forthcoming, about magic or about herself or about anything else.  Her home life is a mystery.  

...Unfortunately, for everyone involved.

Lychford is a small magical place residing somewhere amongst both faeries and something rather Lovecraftian,  and you should go explore it.

ReMade episode 9 season 1: Whiteout

Whiteout Book Cover Whiteout
ReMade #1.9
Andrea Phillips
Science fiction, YA
Serialbox
November 9 2016
e-book
31

All May wants is some alone time – being stuck with a ragtag team of the previously-dead could drive anyone a little crazy (especially when no one has showered for a week). But in this strange and unfamiliar world, danger lurks behind every tree…and sometimes in every cloud.

Oh, man. As if the stranded-in-somewhere-somewhen teens didn't have enough antagonists already, they can now add weather to the list. 

May, never much of a social butterfly, direly needs some alone time - but that's not safe, so her running off on her own is not a bright idea. She still tries.  She wouldn't really know how to deal with Gabe's attempts to get to know her better, anyway. 

But of course, Gabe isn't a quitter, either. He's hurt from earlier misadventures and can't exactly keep up with her as she runs off to investigate a new area, but, oh yes, he tries. 

Until he can't. 

Oops.

This episode of ReMade might be a little lower on action, but I enjoy the pause - especially because I get to spend it with May. 

ReMade episode 8 season 1: End of the line

End of the line Book Cover End of the line
ReMade #1.8
E. C. Myers
Science fiction, YA
Serialbox
November 2 2016
e-book
34

After a twitchy trigger finger leaves the train without a driver, the group scrambles to find a way off their runaway getaway. With food running out and still no idea where they are headed, it’s hard to imagine things could get worse…

New week, new ReMade.  And it's Inez-centric! I'd say the background and personality of Inez was heavily telegraphed from the moment she appeared, so there aren't any big surprises here if you drew the same conclusions I did.  Is it weird that someone really quite awesome almost comes out a bit bland, given the rest of the ReMade kids? Rough deal - poor Inez. 

(But I did notice a bunch of hate for her in the Goodreads comments, which baffles me. She takes Teddy in stride, that's impressive enough on its own...!)

Actually, what I liked best in this episode was not just Inez, but Inez drawing Seyah into conversation. We've hardly seen any of Seyah except through Holden's rose-coloured lenses - what we do know is that she's sort of unique among the kids, because she knows exactly what happened to her before she came here, and that it is, um, Holden's fault. And he's here too.  So that's awkward.

Oh, and they have to get off this train.

This isn't my favourite episode so far, despite some undeniable lifethreatening action. It's a little too much of a lull in the bigger story, and I'm getting so impatient now to learn more about, um, everything. The space station! The caretakers! The why?!

ReMade episode 7 season 1: Mourning train

Mourning train Book Cover Mourning train
ReMade #1.7
Carrie Harris
Science fiction, YA
Serialbox
October 26 2016
e-book
35

Converging on the mysterious train, the survivors make their hasty getaway after the horrific caretaker attack and greet new faces while counting those lost. But with a wild landscape streaming past and no idea where they are headed, the question quickly becomes: who is driving?

So this week's episode is sort of the second half to last week's, which introduced us to new characters Teddy and Inez, and their setting, making everything even weirder than it was, which is pretty remarkable, given how ReMade has been going so far!

So here we are on the mystery train, revisiting Nevaeh's past life. At first glance it looks like a rehash of her previous episode, but this time some things are clearer - and uglier.  I think we're being told that Nevaeh has already had a chance to grow a lot as a person, which makes sense, because she spent so long in what was pretty much social and practical stasis.  I enjoy the effect, though some probably find this episode a little redundant.

Everyone is exhausted and terrified and mourning, falling asleep or lashing out, and maybe it simply requires someone like Nevaeh to even attempt to pull them back together, because everybody else just... knows better.   Loki responds to her like a cornered housecat, and we're powerfully reminded that we don't know the end of his story yet.

And hey! This is episode 7 out of 15, which means we're halfway through the season. Does that mean things get even busier, now?

Monstrous little voices: New tales from Shakespeare’s fantasy world (Collection)

Monstrous little voices: New tales from Shakespeare's Fantasy World Book Cover Monstrous little voices: New tales from Shakespeare's Fantasy World
Monstrous little voices #1-#5
Jonathan Barnes, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Emma Newman, Kate Heartfield, Foz Meadows
Fantasy
Abaddon Books
January 6 2016
e-book
336

Mischief, Magic, Love and War.
It is the Year of Our Lord 1601. The Tuscan War rages across the world, and every lord from Navarre to Illyria is embroiled in the fray. Cannon roar, pikemen clash, and witches stalk the night; even the fairy courts stand on the verge of chaos.
Five stories come together at the end of the war: that of bold Miranda and sly Puck; of wise Pomona and her prisoner Vertumnus; of gentle Lucia and the shade of Prospero; of noble Don Pedro and powerful Helena; and of Anne, a glovemaker’s wife. On these lovers and heroes the world itself may depend.
These are the stories Shakespeare never told. Five of the most exciting names in genre fiction today – Jonathan Barnes, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Emma Newman, Foz Meadows and Kate Heartfield – delve into the world the poet created to weave together a story of courage, transformation and magic.

Including an afterword by Dr. John Lavagnino, The London Shakespeare Centre, King's College London.

Most of my Shakespeare knowledge comes exclusively from piecing together references in everything else I read (or watch, or listen to).  Like the titles in James S.A. Corey's Expanse series,  or Seanan McGuire's October Daye, and the whole fae setup in the Dresden files, too.  Films like 10 things I hate about you.  

It's a bit awkward that I've never really read Shakespeare. (It can happen that way when you don't do your schooling in an English-speaking location! I did a huge amount of extracurricular reading, but my emphasis was with Russians, and though I always had it in mind, I never really found a good time or place to enter into the Shakespeare-thing.)

So, that out of the way, let me assure you that Monstrous little voices is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of stories, even to someone who isn't intimate with the material it plays around with.  

There are five stories collected here, different but interconnected, pulling together.  Foz Meadows' Coral bones is an unexpectedly happy escape-story featuring Miranda and Puck,  and leaves me awkward describing it that way, because an important point in the story is to do with choosing new names for oneself. 

My favourite in the collection is Kate Heartfield's The course of true love, featuring Vertumnus, Pomona, Mab, Hecate and Oberon, and probably several other known characters I didn't notice. I always love a female character who's too old to waffle about, like, you know, Granny Weatherwax, or, in this case, Pomona. 

The collection's last story, Jonathan Barnes' On the twelfth night, is different from the others - its protagonist is Anne Hathaway, her son Hamnet, and her husband, Will, who never went to London, and never wrote a play. 

Now that this collection has stirred my interest again, maybe it's time for me to go looking for some audio drama productions of a few plays - I just don't quite know which one to start with... 

ReMade episode 6 season 1: Reality no-show

Reality no-show Book Cover Reality no-show
ReMade #1.6
Kiersten White
Science fiction, YA
Serialbox
October 19 2016
e-book
46

New week, new ReMade!  Here's the blurb for this one:

New faces appear in a not-so-fun house in the sixth episode of ReMade, the 15-part serial that combines contemporary YA with classic Science Fiction to fling you headfirst into adventure.

Teddy, a teenage heart-throb and reality TV star, is used to being followed by cameras and waking up in strange beds with strange girls. But robot cameras with no operators, beds made of plastic, and girls that have no desire to be in bed with him? That he very unused to. Suddenly trapped in a weird alt-version of his own life – with a rare girl who wouldn’t even have wanted a part in his old one – the teen star seeks questions, and a way out.

So we're definitely not picking up where the previous episode left off - instead, we meet Teddy Young.  He's a reality TV star by virtue of being a teen football player with, evidently, a handsome face.  Everywhere he goes, there are cameras. Every interaction is scripted.   Still, Teddy is an interesting celebrity jock. Because  of those things that never make it onto the screen, of course.

There's a reason Teddy doesn't actually freak out when circumstances dramatically change and the world just stops making any sense. It's not a good or pleasant reason, but one he's been preparing for and accepting for many years already. In a way, he's relieved, because he always thought it'd be worse.

Of course, once he meets certain other teenagers in dirty orange jumpsuits, they might be inclined to disagree - things are bad.

Anyway, this is sort of the first part of a double episode, so the next one will continue directly from this.  Meaning Teddy is here to stay... at least for now, right? Not to forget Inez, who inexplicably finds herself in the same place as Teddy, though she is certainly not an adoring fan.  Inez seems to be wielding some serious leadership skills, and those could certainly come in handy.  May is great, but at this point, I vote Inez.

-

Dear Serialbox Santa:

I want a Serialbox app on my new pink android phone, pretty ple-eeease!

ReMade episode 5 season 1: Umta

Umta Book Cover Umta
ReMade #1.5
Matthew Cody
Science fiction, YA
Serialbox
October 12 2016
e-book
34

Blurb first:

Even in a group of misfits, Umta sticks out. An adult with more history than any of the youths around her can possibly imagine, she knows about survival – and suffering. Brought back and remade seemingly to take care of the helpless children around her, she plays the mysterious guide and hunter with skill…but despite her knowledge, she is just as vulnerable as all the rest when the caretakers make their long-dreaded return.

Umta's story turns out to be more or less what we were led to expect, but it also summons a big whammy of why.  Really, it's only an echo of the big, glaring why of the whole premise - why is any of this stuff happening?  But, yeah, Umta is a special case, and as such, she adds to the mystery.

Now, I was looking forward to this episode for the backstory part of it, but what this episode does is turn attention back to the present.

Oh boy.

"Gruesome" is a fine word, y'know? Here, have some grue, there's plenty of it.  Because the caretakers are back. To them, the word of the day is, perhaps, havoc.

ReMade is a current serial over at Serialbox, and it is my favourite addiction this season.