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The Absconded Ambassador: Genrenauts Episode 2 Paperback – February 23, 2016
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Praise for Episode 1 in the series: THE SHOOTOUT SOLUTION
"Who hasn't wanted to imagine themselves parachuting into a story gone wrong and putting it back on track? It's storytelling as heroism, genre savviness as power. Endless fun. Catnip for genre geeks." ― Marie Brennan, World Fantasy nominated author of A Natural History of Dragons
“A clever, exciting, and seriously fun twist on portal fantasy that sends a geeky stand-up comedian into the Wild West. Sign me up to be a Genrenaut, too!” ―Delilah S. Dawson, author of the Blud series and Hit
"A Tardis of a novella, The Shootout Solution is packed full of ideas... The possibilities are endless... Tor.com continues to blaze a bookish trail in terms of both originality and diversity. More like this, please."
- Geek Syndicate
"Snappy dialogue, twisting plot turns, and efficiently written action scenes combine with a strongly realized protagonist that reminds me of a old friend from my art school days, not a cardboard cut-out of the “strong female character” trope."
"The entire book is just FUN"
- Page Turners Inc.
"A wonderfully executed idea that uses the strengths and background of the writer to great effect… An excellent start to an exciting series, and another highlight of Tor’s novella program.”
- SF Signal
"The Shootout Solution is Genre blending fun."
- Fangirl Nation
“I enjoyed this book tremendously. Leah is a smart, savvy, snarky young woman whose character nicely balances the calm goodheartedness of Shirin, the experienced competency of King, and the attractive cockiness of Roman. They make a great team.”
- Fang Fiction
"We like nerdy Leah and were able to immediately identify with her. She should return for many more episodes!"
- Bull Spec
"I can see this really appealing to readers who are into browsing TV Tropes, or who liked Ready Player One but want a more satisfying experience."
- One Last Sketch
"The concept of Genrenauts is awesome."
- The Book Plank
"It’s told with a light touch ― the debt to Leverage and The Librarians is obvious (and readily acknowledged), with a good dose of action, a hint of a looming catastrophe/conspiracy. There’s a good deal of literary/narrative theory under-girding this whole project ― it’s not as frivolous as it may seem."
- Irresponsible Reader
"It’s got a clever, rather cool central idea. It has a plot built around that which keeps up suspense, whilst giving you a protagonist to care about, portrayed well, in a world which feels believable – perhaps by virtue of the setting for that world. I’d like to see more of all of the characters, and really, more of the setting in general, but that’s more recommendation than complaint!"
- SF & F reviews
From the Author
This book is part of the Genrenauts series, where a team of story specialists travels to worlds based on Westerns, Science Fiction, Romance, and other genres. Their mission is to find and fix broken stories. Because if they fail, the ripples from the story worlds will cause havoc and devastation on their home world.
For fans of Westworld, Leverage, and Redshirts!
Complete Genrenauts series order:
#2 - The Absconded Ambassador - amzn.com/B0166PX1VM
#3 - The Cupid Reconciliation - amzn.com/B01G45CFRA
#4 - The Substitute Sleuth - amzn.com/B01GDD5W5K
#5 - The Failed Fellowship - amzn.com/B01IL488GY
Find out when the next book is released - michaelrunderwood.com/newsletter/
Top customer reviews
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Now this was a way to close out 2015 — the second episode in Michael R. Underwood’s Genrenauts delivers on the promise of Episode 1, and demonstrates that his special alchemy of Leverage + The Librarians + Quantum Leap + Thursday Next (just my current guess at his secret recipe) has legs — and will hopefully go a long time.
Leah has had about a week to get used to this new reality since her adventure in Western World — a week filled with meetings, reading assignments and trying to wrap her head around things. In the meanwhile, everyone at Genrenauts HQ is trying to prepare for the next breach (in the midst of a spike of 15% over the norm, for your corporate types), probably in Romance World. Which obviously means it’ll be pretty much anywhere else, like say Science Fiction World.
The station of Ahura-3, in the space opera region, to be specific. I’m sure the similarity between the name of the station and a certain Communications Officer is a huge coincidence. Ahura-3 is everything you want in a space station — it’s a melting pot of very-alien-looking/acting aliens, it’s a culture to itself, with strategic location, and very delicate intergalactic politics.
Leah’s excitement about being in “honest-to-goodness, Sally Ride is my homegirl zero-g” space was infectious. But even more fun was the amount of SF references Underwood fit into half of chapter 1 — truly astounding, and didn’t feel forced or overcrowded. He deserves a tip of the cap right there. I made it all the way to page 42 without having to Google one of them (I think there was only one other time I had to grab my smart phone). But the fun’s not limited to the references and allusions — it’s in the alien cultural practices (and appearances), the various factions (human and otherwise), businesses, and just watching the whole Science Fiction World thing at work.
One thing that’s been niggling at the back of my mind with these Episodes is what’s to keep Leah from being Ree Reyes 2.0? Underwood seems to be going with keeping Leah from the more Parker/Eliot Spencer-type roles and moving her into the Sophie Devereau/Alec Hardison-type roles. She and Shirin scramble all over the station trying to keep treaty negotiations moving forward. They’re thinking on their feet, using their wits, charm and SF knowledge to keep things under control — Leah’s on-the-job training under Shirin helps the readers acclimate to this world, too. The action-hero needs are served by the rest of the team, Roman and King — whose banter while throwing punches, engaging in dogfights, and so on, kept the fun going (honestly, maybe was a little more fun than the rest).
In Episode 1, I wondered if the pilot nature of the novella kept it from being everything I wanted it to be. The Absconded Ambassador built on that ground work and gave us a solid, fully-formed adventure — everything I hoped it would be. And that’s just in the main story, there’s all this other stuff going on: not only do we have a sense of impending doom — or at least very big crisis — coming to the Multi-Genre-Verse. But now we’ve got some sort of secret within the team (not one that’s going to cause much trouble, I don’t think — but you never know), and (according to the preview for Episode 3) maybe some intra-team conflict. Underwood just nailed here, and Genrenauts is about half-a-novella away from being his most consistently entertaining work.
I won a copy of this in a drawing on the author’s website — which means I got to read it two months early — and I got a very nice autograph on the title page. The downside is, I have to wait longer than I’d have had to wait otherwise between Episodes 2 and 3. I still came out ahead, but not by much.
Sometimes there’s PowerPoint.
Mike actually taps into one of my favorite sub-genres, what I call Bureaucracy Porn. Books like The Goblin Emperor, Articles of the Federation (Star Trek), and The Outback Stars peel back the layers and ask questions like “How does the King actually run a kingdom in an Epic Fantasy?” and “What does a junior officer actually do in a Space Opera?”
Mike’s POV character Leah Tang is brand new to the organization. As with most of us starting off, she doesn’t know what the heck she’s doing, relying on her ability to read situations and off her penchant for sarcasm. That’s a character I can relate to.
As with the previous installment, Mike uses his love of genre to spin a story that would feel right at home in a modern day episode of Star Trek, ramping up quickly, doing it’s thing, and then resolving. And just like later season DS9, we get a set of plot threads that we have to tune in next week to see the progression of.
While the plot alone would be a little threadbare, it’s experiencing it through the eyes of genre-savvy characters that really make this series special.
Final Verdict: Thoroughly Enjoyed and I’m definitely in for the next one in Rom Com Land!
Bonus Author Question:
BF: We’ve talked before about your love of Hamilton. Any chance the Genrenauts end up in Broadway Musical land?
Mike Underwood: I want to make this happen really hard, but I’d need to figure out how to convey the feeling of the music and the dancing. If I manage to get a Genrenauts TV show made, that kind of episode would be very high on my priorities.
More unorthodox takes on Genre Tropes:Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edit by John Joseph Adams
(Other reviews on blackfishreviews.wordpress.com)