In defence of reading for pleasure

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

In fiction, there is a serious case of classism. Multiple serious cases or classism actually, but I’m going to talk about one that pisses me off personally.

Just because a story isn’t dark and brooding, or doesn’t make you cry at the indignities of life, doesn’t mean that it should be held to different standards.

Fluff, Light, Dumb, Popcorn, Adventure, and Popular are all ways of describing things that are categorised as lesser in quality. As they are automatically lesser, they are then considered immune to certain criticism.

Let’s take Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It’s a nostalgia-driven love letter to the 80’s. So much so that the plot, politics, and characters are all 80’s stereotypes. That’s not a good thing. The plot is lazy, the characters hateful, the diversity forced and self-congratulatory. I’d go as far as saying the book isn’t just bad, it encourages a level of navel gazing and retro social politics that are toxic.

When discussing this book on panel The Nights at the Round Table, panelists gave it a pass because it was a Light Fun Cottage read. I am not attacking the panelists, they are wonderful people whom I care deeply for!

As consumers we’ve been told our entire lives that there are two classes of writing, the fluff and the serious. Over the years that has changed. Early examples of light fluffy reading is anything by Jane Austin, who is now considered a classic author (Deservedly so she’s fantastic). Shakespeare was the Michael Bay of his time.

#HoldFluffAccountable

Disclaimer: I am an Adventure writer. What I write is considered low-brow fluff even by the most adamant genre writers. I also read a great deal of what people call stupid fun (Urban Fantasy, Supernatural Horror, Genre YA, etc.) so obviously my opinion is skewed.

I hate that no matter how much thought I put into my writing, it will always be considered low-class and fluff. BUT I hate so much more that books and movies that fall into the same categories are immune to criticism and analysis unless they are extremely popular or extremely depressing.

You can read for pleasure and still be immensely touched and even enriched by any form of story. Books by Laura Resnick, Tanya Huff, Seanan Maguire, or Tamora Peirce have worlds as detailed and content a deep/meaningful as anything in hard Science-Fiction or epic Fantasy.

There are themes and stories inside superhero films that are just as dark or just as thought provoking as the latest drama/tragedy.

When you dismiss a story as not worthy of criticism, you are accepting that story’s flaws and normalizing its harm. It’s the popular fluff that will cause the most damage because it’s what more people read or watch. You must hold it accountable for its flaws and its mistakes.

There shouldn’t be two classes of story and you have the power to change that by holding them all accountable and by critically analyzing everything.

 

Later Days,

Éric

 

 

 

The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Conclusion

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

Felix had been given a chance to relive an entire day of his life. Unfortunately it was his birthday, April 1st. How he hated April Fool’s. The pranks were at best annoying and at worst dangerous. The entire concept was ridiculous.

He had spent the entirety of the previous night reading a novel, but he couldn’t remember it’s title or it’s plot. He had then spent the night tossing and turning in his comfortable bed. His mind replayed every event with Miss Amanda Eris.

The adventure had been frightening, dangerous, and dirty. He’d loved every moment of it. Tucked in his bed, the city lights shining through his curtains, he couldn’t lie to himself. He’d liked her and could see himself falling in love with her. He didn’t care if she was a robot. She was just as human as he was.

Finally at six am he decided to wake up. He prepared himself an elaborate breakfast and showered. When he got out of the shower he saw that he’d missed a call from the office. It was Margery, his cubical mate. “Hey Felix. Your ten o’clock just called to cancel and Mister McMahon says you can take the whole day off. Have fun and happy birthday!”

“That woman is way too cheerful,” he said. Somehow he didn’t hate it as much as he remembered. It was nice of her to remember his birthday.

It wasn’t even eight yet and he had nothing to do for the day. Traditionally, he’d stay at home and read or watch television. As he stood there, half dressed, his apartment’s walls seemed to shrink and if felt much too small.

The cartoon dinosaur calendar stared at him from the kitchen. His niece Sonia had given it to him for Christmas. It was a sweet, if odd, gift for a man who preferred a mixture of modern and books for decoration.

He picked up the telephone and called his brother, “Dean. How are you today?”

“Hey bro. Happy Birthday.” He paused probably wanting to ask why Felix was calling.

“Does Sonia have the day off?” Felix asked.

“She does. I was going to drop her off at Sam’s mom’s house while I got to work. Why?”

“I think it’s time I try something different for my birthday. I was thinking of taking her to that play place that she likes and maybe to a toy store.”

“She’d love that Felix. Are you ok?” Dean sounded concerned.

“I don’t know, but spending time with my niece will help, I’m sure.”

* * *

At the age of five it was easy to understand Sonia. She wanted to run around, play, and loved anything that had bright colours. After a few hours at a play place, they had picked up lunch from a grilled cheese food truck and sat down in the park. It was an unusually warm day and as they ate he told her the story of what had happened to him.

When he was done she said, “Wow. Did you kiss her? Do you love her?”

“No. We just met. It takes time to fall in love.”

“No it doesn’t. I knew I loved Tommy the first day of school.”

Felix laughed and asked, “Do your fathers know about this?”

She nodded, “Uh huh.” Her faced twisted in concentration and she asked, “Uncle Felix. You said the dinosaurs had green skin, right?” he nodded, unsure what she meant. “My teacher says that dinosaurs had feathers and we just found out. How could the bad guys in your story be dinosaurs?”

“There are a lot of dinosaurs,” he answered. “Just like there are a lot of different kinds of horses. Maybe the ones in my story are like alligators and don’t have feathers?”

“Maybe, but I don’t understand why you had to blow up their ship. Couldn’t you just talk to them?”

He considered how he could answer the question but he wasn’t sure himself. He’d just sort of let himself be pushed and pulled. Why had it been necessary? “Do you want me to push you on the swings?” he asked to divert both their attentions.

From the swings, Felix could see an electronics store across the street. He glimpsed occasional pieces of news on the televisions. It wasn’t long before he saw the familiar video of his apartment building in flames. They showed a picture of Leonardo da Vinci in modern clothing as the main suspect.

“Sonia, sweetie. I’m going to drop you off at Grandma’s, ok? I have to go do something.”

“You’re going to see Amanda? Your girlfriend?” Sonia chanted several times as they walked to her grandmother’s.

* * *

The only place he could think of looking for Amanda Eris, the time travelling robot, was the McDonald’s that they’d first stopped at after escaping his work building.

When he walked in, he turned to where they had sat and saw her sitting there licking an ice-cream cone.

“It really is better with real dairy,” she said as a greeting.

“I thought you said I didn’t have to worry about the bomb?” he asked in an accusing whisper as he sat across from her.

Her forehead crinkled and there was sadness her in eyes when she said, “I thought you were. They told me you were.”

“Who’s they?”

“The robot high counsel. They’re the ones who sent me. You were estimated to be one of the people that had the least influence on history so you were chosen to fight the dinosaurs.”

Her words stung, “Why did you need me, or anyone then?”

“We were programmed with safeguards preventing us from hurting any living beings. We needed someone who could pull the trigger.”

“Aren’t there any humans in your time?”

“No. They were all killed.”

“But the museum?”

“Not humans. Just other sentient species.”

“So you tricked me into doing your dirty work and then tried to kill me?”

“I had no idea about the bomb. When I found out, I came straight here.” Her free hand reached out for his. “Please believe me; I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

He took her hand and enjoyed its softness and warmth, “But the news says that da Vinci planted the bomb that was supposed to kill me. Isn’t that harming a living creature?”

“Yes. My fellow robots seem to have found a way to bypass their programming. I don’t know how.”

“What happens now?”

“I think the robots have been manipulating time to try and alter their programming. I need your help to set things right.”

“You want me to help you put time back into its proper order?” Felix smiled. “You’ve found the right man.”

They stood up together and she pulled him towards her with her red lips almost touching his, she said, “Your organization skills will be useful but I want you around for much more.”

With that she kissed him and his world melted away and there was nothing but her lips and the warmth of her body.

The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part Ten

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

“Grab the joystick and do your part,” Yelled Leonardo da Vinci pointing at a chair with what looked like virtual reality glasses and a fancy joystick.

Hesitantly Felix sat in the comfortable chair and put on the glasses. Sudenly he could see the outside of the ship as if he was there. It was disconcerting and he had to take a few deep breaths to convince his body he wasn’t about to die.

He could hear Miss Eris walking to the back of the small fighter ship to install the diamond. The soft clacking of her heels on the hull of the ship. The ship was roughly the size of a moderately sized motor home.

“Just try not to hit our allies,” as da Vinci said it certain ships started to glow green and others red. The green ones were built like fighter jets made of black steel, while the others looked like golden eggs. Even though the two designs were so different Felix appreciated the colour coding. They all moved so quickly it was hard to tell.

The joystick moved his field of vision and when he pressed the large red button a bright crimson beam of light shot out. It struck one of the golden eggs and the eggs exploded like in an action movie.

“Good shot,” he hear in the earpiece of the headset. It had a slight Italian accent and Felix suspected it was Nicola Tesla.

Turning the joystick to the far right, Felix yelped in surprise. While he’d been concentrating on all the smaller ships he hadn’t seen the mothership. It was huge. From this angle he would have sworn it was as big as a planet and it was exactly like the smaller eggs.

“Do we have one of those?” asked Felix.

“No,” replied several people at once.

A warm hand rested on his shoulder and he heard the warm voice of Miss Eris say, “That is why we needed the diamond. It will allow this ship to increase its firepower and destroy the mothership.”

“That makes sense I suppose. You should probably get on one of these gun things too.”

“There’s only one gun on each ship. Otherwise the drain would be too much.”

“Oh, then let me get out of your way,” Felix assumed she was a better shot than he was. She was better at almost everything. Her hand kept him firmly in place.

“Felix only you can do this.” Her voice was soft and her confidence in him overwhelming.

“That’s ridiculous!” He exclaimed. “I’m not special. I’m just me. You have a time machine in your arm and sitting next to me is Leonardo da Vinci you can not tell me that I’m better qualified than either of you.” As he yelled a large humming started to compete in volume.

The ship turned towards the giant egg and da Vinci said, “You’re at the gun and we only have one shot at this. Just aim and shoot when I tell you.”

The egg came closer and closer until all he could see was a golden sheen. He wanted to shoot but nobody said anything. They just kept getting closer until suddenly he felt the entire ship jerk to one side, just as a pillar of yellow light exploded from the egg.

“Hold on,” said Miss Eris from somewhere next to him. It was one of those clichéd sayings that made him yell at movies. What did she expect? That he’d jump out if his seat and dance? Of course he’d hold on and hope his bowels did the same.

Just when he thought they’d bump into the gigantic spaceship he saw that it wasn’t one large solid egg but made by millions of little eggs and egg ports.

“Now aim for the red dot on your screen.” da Vinci said a little too calmly for Felix’s liking.

He pressed the button and his vision turned bright crimson. It was all he could see but he held on to the button. He felt shockwaves hit the ship but all he could see was red.

The red stopped along with the high pitched hum. Felix let go of the button. What he saw now was a large debris field. Bits of gold caught the light from the sun and reflected like sparkles on a holiday ornament.

“It’s over,” Miss Eris said, a tear rolling down her cheek. We’ve finally won.

Standing and shaking his hand da Vinci said, “You’ve done your race proud. Thank you!”

Smiling from ear to ear, Felix could only nod.

“I’ll take you home,” Miss Eris gave him a sad smile.

“Thank you,” he said feeling relieved and sad at the same time.

He took her hand for what he realized would be the last time and the world twisted into odd shapes. The now familiar feeling of being turned inside out didn’t seem so bad.

When the world realigned itself he was inside his apartment. “But I thought it blew up?”

“It did but now it won’t. The enemy was destroyed there’s no need for your apartment to explode,” she smiled at him.

As he tried to decipher what she’d said he saw his wall calendar. It had a large picture of a cartoon dinosaur, his niece had gotten it for him for Christmas. The date on the calendar said, March 31st, 2014. The clock read six-fourteen in the afternoon.

“How long have we been gone?” he asked.

“For the world. You never left. For you and I, it’s been a week.”

“Feels like a year,” he sighed.

“It’s time I go,” she said.

“Goodbye Miss Eris,” he said trying to think of anything but her leaving. He reached his hand out to shake hers.

“Goodbye Felix,” she took his hand and pulled him towards her. Gently she leaned over and kissed him. His body exploded in shivers. He sighed internally as he felt the warmth in her lips and the heat from her body. As much as he’d fought against it, this was what he wanted.

She let go and moved back, there were tears on her cheeks, “Goodbye Felix and to answer your question from the museum I am a robot. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you.” With those last words she disappeared.

“What do I do now?” he asked the empty apartment.

He reached into his bookcase and pulled out a novel without looking at the title. He sat on his couch and started to read. This was what he had wanted. Wasn’t it?

Read the Conclusion

The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part Nine

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

“Hello Sir,” Felix said, feeling rested but hungry as he looked down the barrel of the thin man’s gun. He resisted the urge to tell the bank robber how dirty the barrel of his gun looked from this angle.

“Don’t sir me, you ugly mook. Just give me all your money,” The man looked like a good wind would blow him over, but he had what Felix thought was a “Tommy Gun” pointed at a room full of bank clientele.

“I’m sorry I really have nothing of value on me,” Felix ignored the rude comments and repeated what he’d told the man and his wife.

“Search him, Claire,” said the man.

“He’s clean, got nothing on him, Donnie,” said the short dumpy woman.

“Donnie and Claire?” mumbled Felix. Why couldn’t he get name brand villains instead of cheap knockoffs?

Just as Donnie turned to point his rather large gun at another client, the little bell on top of the entrance rang and a large man forced his way through the doorway, similar to the way canned cranberries slump out of their can.

As the man entered, Donnie turned his ridiculously large gun towards the man. Felix then did something that he never thought he’d do. He punched Donnie as hard as he could in the face. The gun went off releasing a spray of bullets that shot a few windows, as it and Donnie fell to the floor.

When he looked back, Miss Eris had subdued Claire and taken away her firearm.

The large man, who wore a pinstriped suit, stopped in shock at the scene in front of him. When he recovered, he ran to Felix and shook his hand, “You have saved my life sir. How can I ever repay you? You shall come to dinner at my home tonight.”

It was at this point that Felix started to wonder if something like fate, destiny, or dumb luck was guiding their trip. Appearing in the middle of a bank heist seemed the least likely way to get invited to dinner at a gangster’s home, but as it turned out he was once again wrong. It wasn’t anything like fate. He decided that the universe had a perverse sense of humour and was enjoying toying with him.

* * *

The problem with a formal dinner was that Felix hadn’t eaten anything in … He wasn’t sure but it felt like days. He just wanted to attack the food and not worry about what people thought. It was a rare emotion for him. He always tried to be tidy and clean, but hunger made him sloppy and grumpy.

All thoughts left his head when he smelled the food. It tasted heavenly and he had the hardest time paying attention to any conversation.

When dessert was finally served after several courses of heavenly food, Amanda leaned over to him and said, “How do you suppose we get the diamond?”

As an answer, he shrugged, “We’ve done it before, so we’ll do it again.”

“The depression has taken its toll on all of us, hasn’t it, Mister Felicis?” The large gangster asked.

“Yes, I supposed it has. I must say I haven’t eaten this well in years,” Felix winked at Amanda. Small talk about politics and the evils of prohibition dominated the after-dinner conversation. When he felt it was appropriate, Felix suggested, “Could we have a tour of your lovely home?”

It was a beautiful house, just outside the city, built in the grand Federal style with hints of Greek-Revival, reminiscent of the White House and the Tara plantation in Gone with the Wind, one of Felix’s favourite movies.

As they walked, Felix offered Amanda his arm. It served two purposes letting them whisper to each other and having her close. The latter being something Felix desperately wanted. She infuriated him with her illogical views of the universe, and that she was always right, but she was kind and friendly and seemed to generally care for him.

As she held his arm her hands were warm, everything was warm in what must have been summer heat, and he didn’t envy the armed men who continued to wear their pinstriped suits despite the weather. Felix had taken off his jacket, but not his coat and rolled up his dress shirt’s sleeves. “Clever idea getting a tour, this way we can find out where the diamond is being held.” Amanda whispered in his ear.

Trying not to sound flustered he replied, “I hadn’t thought of it. I just really like the house.” He looked at her expecting disappointment or contempt, instead he saw a glint of laughter in her eyes and wide smile.

“You two make a wonderful couple,” said the large gangster.

“Oh, we’re not a couple,” Felix said looking at Amanda for some sort of contradiction.

“We’ve only known each other for a few days, but I have greatly enjoyed his company. Unfortunately we’re from different worlds.” With those worlds Amanda shattered Felix’s fragile male ego and his hopes.

“It’s not where we start that matters, my friends, but where you end up and who you journey with. Ah, to be young like you.” The gangster paused as if lost in reflection. He looked older than Felix had first thought. He then led them into a large room, “Since my wife passed away, bless her, I have collected beauty in every form.” He opened a set of double doors and Felix was worried about what the man considered beauty.

The room was filed with pieces of art. A Van Gogh, several Monets, and lots of ancient vases. All in a large aisle to a dais with a large diamond on it.

When they were in front of the diamond, Felix looked at their host and said, “Thank you for your hospitality.” With that, he took the diamond with one hand and Miss Eris’s hand with the other.

With his hopes of romance squashed, he had a renewed fervor to return to his old life. As the world twisted and melted away he yearned for his couch and a good book.

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The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part Eight

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

“Hello,” said Felix to the woman on the other side of the glass. She vaguely looked like a cat, an orange tabby to be precise which confused him. He thought he’d heard that only male cats were orange. This was certainly not a male cat. More of a teenagers daydream of what a cat woman would look like. If that that teenager was really into lab coat wearing zookeepers from the future.

“I’ve had a really long day madam,” he said sounding tired even to himself. “I got up this morning and took a meeting with a beautiful, if chaotic woman,” he pointed at Amanda Eris, “and then dinosaurs from the future blew up my apartment.” He paused thinking about time, “I suppose they’re from my future but your past. None the less, I was then dragged back in time to avoid a giant cyborg gorilla and his rider.” The woman nodded at him sagely. “We were taken hostage by gangsters; Met Leonardo da Vinci; survived the temple of death traps; ran from more dinosaurs and now we’re stuck here.” The woman looked at him tilting her head as if asking a question, “Yes of course. I forgot. We went to the temple to get a diamond that would save humanity from the dinosaurs. We just had to give it to an old lady who would pass it on to her gangster grandson, then we can steal it back.” He scratched his head.

The woman meowed at him and started to laugh, she walked away from the glass.

“Seems needlessly convoluted. Even to me,” said Amanda.

“Ok so we’re in a museum that has almost perfectly mimicked my apartment through what telepathy?” Felix was trying to understand he felt like he’d been so close to being finished with the day.

“No. It’s built from electrical impulses in your brain that are turned into waves.” She stopped, “Yeah, telepathy.” This was the first time that Felix had seen her look sad. He didn’t like it. He preferred her being perky, mysterious, or smug.

“Does that mean the shower will work?” Felix asked. She only shrugged as an answer and he decided it might be worth a try, even if he was being watched. The shower did work and it was blissful to clean the dirt of the day off him. He felt the scar on his eye and sighed at its lack of symmetry.

When he left the shower he was loathed to put on his dirty and ripped suit. He wrapped the towel around himself and walked out of the washroom. When Amanda saw him she blushed and looked away. “Come on Amanda, a good shower will help you think and feel better.” She nodded sullenly and went into the washroom.

Going to the closet he wished that he’d owned something more fitting to travelling through time and space. When he opened the closet he was surprised to find that nothing in it was his clothes. Instead he found a long black leather duster, a pair of nice looking black military boots, a comfortable light blue dress shirt, and a charcoal gray suit with at vest instead of a jacket.

By the time that Amanda was out of the shower he was dressed and had shaved the stubble threatening to become visible on his face. “Where did you get that?” she asked. She looked splendid in nothing but a towel.

It took Felix a few moments to compose himself before pointing to the closet. When she opened it he saw a bright clowns outfit. She closed it again and reopened it to find an outfit that nearly matched his perfectly. Her coat and boots were navy blue, her shirt was a white sweater, and she had no vest.

He looked at the gawking museum patrons as she changed and when she was done she said, “This is wonderful.”

“They do fit quite well,” Felix said assuming she was talking about the clothes.

When he turned to look at her she had several small cases in front of her. Walking over to the table she put them down and turned to him to smile.

“I’ve always been curious how woman put on their makeup.” Felix smiled at her.

Looking confused she replied, “It’s not complicated, I have several different settings. I think light casual would be easiest.” She closed her eyes and tapped her temple a few times and when she opened them she was wearing light makeup. Eye shadow, lipstick, and blush. “Sub dermal implants that can temporarily infuse skin cells with colour.”

Looking at her with (what he assumed was) recognizable confusion he pointed at the little cases and asked, “Then what are those?”

“Repair kits of course.” She opened one of them with her left hand putting her right hand on the table palm up. Taking what looked like a small screw driver from the kit, she touched it to the inside of her wrist and her entire lower arm opened to show a complicated mechanism with glowing lights. It seemed to be wrapped around the flesh of her arm. Felix could see her bone from where he stood.

Unable to fight back the gag reflex, Felix ran to the sink to throw up everything that was in his stomach. Which was nothing at all and he ended up dry gagging. Once he’d controlled himself he brushed his teeth and came back out.

Amanda smiled at him, “Feeling better? Ready to go?”

“May I ask an indelicate question?” Felix asked feeling foolish. When she nodded he asked, “Are you a robot?”

Smiling largely she said, “Don’t be ridiculous.” Then asked, “Are you hungry?”

“Yes. What do you say we get invited to a gangster’s house for dinner?” he asked ignoring the discomfort in his stomach.

“Great idea,” she smiled at him and something in the way she looked at him made him feel warm and loved. Sighing happily he added, “Something tells me the worst is behind us.”

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The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part Seven

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

“How the heck are we going to get out now?” Felix looked across the chasm that they had somehow crossed.

“We can just time Jump from here,” Amanda, Miss Eris, said.

At the same time they looked at their hands that were both resting on the large diamond they then turned to each other and smiled.

The past day (was it really just a day?) had been filled with nonsense, dirt, and chaos but through it all Miss Eris had been there stalwart in her mission to save his life. That dedication impressed him.

The jump was no more pleasant than it had been before. The found themselves in a small village.

“Where are we? Shouldn’t we be bringing this thing,” he waved the diamond around, “To Tesla?”

Looking at him in the way his grade school teacher once had when he asked what the point of playing well with others was, she said, “Felix. We must do our best to not disturb the timelines. This means we must find that gangster’s grandmother and give her the gem.”

Rolling his eyes, Felix replied, “I hate time travel. How do we find the woman? All we know of him is that he’s a mob boss and kind of impatient.”

She snorted at the last comment and giggled. He ignored her outburst and looked around. It was a small village, assuming they were at the right place. The words quaint and smelly came to mind.

“Get out of my way, you stupid foreigner. You might be able to laze about all day but some of us have to do an honest day’s work.” Standing behind them was a woman who didn’t look impressed in the least. She also looked awfully familiar.

Holding his hand out he said, “Sorry ma’am, you’re perfectly right. Take this diamond as an apology.”

Scowling at him in the exact same way her grandson would, she took the jewel and continued on her way.

“Well that was easy. Now let’s go steal it back and get this damned day over with,” he was about to mention how he was looking forward to reading in front of his fake fireplace, the real ones were too messy, but he had forgotten had his apartment had exploded.

“Run!” Miss Eris took his hand into hers and pulled him down through a field. He considered asking why, or looking back to see what was chasing them but decided he’d rather not know. He concentrated on not falling and keeping up with Miss Eris.

As he stared down at his feet and where they were to land he saw that Miss Eris was still wearing those ridiculous high heels. He scoffed internally at the vanity of such footwear, and then had to admit she was quite nimble in them. He felt that it was him that was holding them up.

“How are you running in those?” he couldn’t help but ask.

His question must have broken her concentration because she paused in mid stride and fell forwards, right off a small hill, pulling him along with her. They tumbled down the long hill until they hit a grassy area at the bottom. Somewhere along the way he’d lost a sleeve.

Sitting and catching his breath he looked at the shoes again and shook his head, “Is it some sort of future technology? Are they the time machine?”

Her hair, that had escaped it’s bun in the diamond temple, was now all over the place. Her hair was a light reddish brown, now spotted with grass, twigs and other things.

“I just got used to them that’s all. They’re very comfortable,” her indomitable calm seemed flustered. She seemed angry.

“I find flat shoes uncomfortable I assumed those would be worse,” he said, trying to keep any indignation out of his voice. He didn’t want to offend her. Which was a lot for Felix, it meant he cared about her feelings. Feelings were messy, stupid things, but he didn’t want her hurt.

“Oh. In my time when you buy shoes, you choose the style and they scan your feet to make sure you have a perfect fit.”

“Ok. Are we safe from what we were running from?” He still wasn’t convinced that the heels could ever be comfortable, like dress shoes they should be made not to be comfortable. If Felix wanted to be comfortable he would work from home and avoid dress clothes all together.

“I don’t see the dinosaur that was chasing us,” She looked up the hill.

Standing up and offering her his hand Felix sighed, “Shall we go?”

Once again they jumped but this time instead of making him sick, it made him very sick. He was extremely happy to find a waste basket next to him as they appeared.

Once he’d lost what little food he’d eaten that day he looked up at his bedroom. “Oh thank god I’m home.” He headed towards his closet and opened it but instead of a change of clothes there was just a grey metal wall.

Turning around he saw that one whole wall of his bedroom was a glass mirror. On the other side of the mirror were children, at least he assumed they were children, they were small and of various shapes and sizes. He thought it rather looked like Halloween or a Star Trek convention.

The children were gawping and drooling, as children always do though Felix.

“Where are we?” he asked.

“We’re in a museum,” Amanda replied, looking utterly defeated. That’s when he noticed the sign just to the left of their little exhibit that said, “Early third millennium time travellers.”

“Shall we leave?” he asked offering her his hand.

Looking a little sick, Amanda gave him a sad look and said, “We can’t. The fall damaged the time travel device.”

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The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part 6

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

“Let me get this straight,” Felix had given up disbelieving. It lessened the headaches. “We need to steal a diamond from a Mobster to give to Leonardo da Vinci. So that he and Nicolai Tesla can defeat the Dinosaurs that wants to kill me. Do I have that right?”

“Yes but…” Miss Eris looked uncomfortable and looked around but Felix wasn’t going to be deterred.

“Nope. Not getting distracted this time. You’re going to look me in the eye and tell me why they’re trying to kill me. Now!” His nose started to itch. There must have been a lot of dust where they were but he refused to look away from the vibrant green orbs that were her eyes. They were mesmerizing and all he could concentrate on for the seconds before she responded.

“I really think we should move just a few more feet to the left,” she avoided the question.

“I insist that we clarify this now,” he stubbornly insisted.

Rumbling and the sound of a steam engines horn pulled his attention away from her. It was an early model train and they seemed to be in a tunnel. Sighing he grabbed her shoulders and dove for the far wall.

Twisting as they flew towards the wall his back hit the stone with a hard impact. The train passed by them and he saw a human shaped Sauren sitting in the dining car with its family. They were dressed in early Victorian clothing.

“We’re running out of time, we have to hurry. This temporal area has already been converted.”

“Converted? What? Why?” She was reaching for his hand, and he sneezed. There was a breeze coming from somewhere and it wasn’t from either end of the tunnel. “I’ve had enough of being dragged around without knowing anything and being afraid.”

Reaching out he pushed on the wall that had, surprisingly, cracked from his weight and pushed on it. A large hole opened and an old stone staircase could be seen.

Seeing her confused look he said, “I don’t sneeze for dirt only dust,” and he walked towards the steps.

The stairway was narrow and lit by torches every fifteen steps. He was terrified and for the first time since he’d met Eris, he admitted it to himself. He wanted to go back to his comfortable, clean apartment and not be messing with time.

“Why are you going down there?” Miss Eris asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “These torches couldn’t have been here very long. Someone must be here.”

The final step led to a small corridor that turned sharply to the left. He was about to make the turn when she grabbed his arm and pulled him back. As he was going to argue he saw the person, or rather Sauren, who’d been here before them. He’d been shot by a dozen arrows on either side of his body.

“It’s trapped?” He yelled looking down the corridor. At it’s end he could barely see something glowing. It looked familiar. “That’s the diamond isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is. But we’ll have to get through these traps to get to it.”

“Thanks, I was afraid you’d say that.”

“My pleasure,” she smiled looking happy to be of service. She had missed his sarcasm.

“Do you have a personal force field?”

“No. Why?”

Sighing loudly he said, “For a time traveller you’re not very prepared.”

“My mission was to find you and get you to safety and then ensure you stayed there for twenty four hours, I wasn’t expecting this.” She gestured towards the trapped corridor and her hand got to close. A Line of arrows shot out from where her hand had been and then another, creating a wave of arrows from one end to the other of the corridor.

“Well that’s interesting.” Felix passed his hand and then did it again nothing happened the second time. No new arrows escaped until the wave had finished. He tried again and the same thing happened. “We have two choices, run across trying to outrun the arrows or let the wave go and then run after it and hope it doesn’t go the other way.”

“Ok. Let’s do that.”

“I’d try to exhaust the arrows but something tells me that’s too easy.”

Taking a deep breath he reached out and set off the wave and then started to run. It seemed he and Miss Eris entangled hands before running.

They made it just as the second wave started from the opposite direction. The room they found themselves in was square and there was a small pedestal on the far end of the room with the diamond on it.

“This looks simple enough,” Miss Eris said.

“Wait, I’ve seen this movie before” he took a quarter out of his wallet and tossed it across the room. It bounced and rolled towards the left. The floor gave out on both sides of a narrow bridge. It was less a bridge and more of a pole.

“You had to say something.” He sighed again and put one foot in front of the other. Miss Eris was behind him, a little out of her element, and they were making good progress until the gouts of flame shot out from the pit around them. His nice suit was now crumbled, cut, and singed.

He heard a crunch and heard Miss Eris slip. He tried to turn and catch her but she fell onto the bridge. She held on for dear life. Her hair had escaped the bun and was flowing freely, daring the flames.

He reached down to grab her and almost fell. Finally he managed to awkwardly sit on the bridge and reach for her. She took an iron grip on his hand and he pulled her up. She managed to sit in front of him. Her business skirt had seen better days.

“Are you ok Amanda?” he asked, assuming it would be ok to use her first name now that they’d saved each other’s lives.

“Yes Felix I think I’ll survive.”

They moved together to the platform and he grabbed the diamond.

Taking his hand she looked at him and softly said, “I don’t know why they want to kill you. Just that they do.”

Read Part 7

Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair –Book Review

A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novels both Phoenix Rising and the Janus Affair are written by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris.

Both Novels follow two British secret agents that deal with odd, weird, or peculiar occurrences. It’s a formula that works well for X-files, Warehouse 13, and countless cop shows. It works wonderfully with these two characters. The Explosive and flippant female lead and the bookish conservative male, play off each other wonderfully.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my post here.

Characters

Compared to Victorian novels or fantasy novels these books casts are relatively small. It would be easy to have each agent be a cookie cutter trope but every agent from the ministry is unique and interesting.

The two main characters have deep and interesting stories that are slowly parsed out at key moments. Always keeping you wanting more.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

The novels are “Steampunk” and are written with a great balance between Victorian and modern styles. The language is older and the storyline refers to a lot of historical facts but the style is still quick and action packed. That being said there are times that it felt like the authors were trying a little too hard to both mimic the Victorian style and subvert its misconceptions.

I give it 3 out of 5.

Story

The story is fast, action packed, and feels like a good action adventure movie. There are robots, sexy assassins, and awesome mysteries. It’s everything you want in a great pulp novel.

I give the story 4 out of 5

Fun

These books are fun from cover to cover. If you enjoy action adventure you’ll love these books.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun

Overall

Final score is 80%