In June this year, at Continuum X (the 53rd Australian National Science Fiction Convention), I launched LynC’s debut science fiction novel Nil by Mouth. Today’s blog post (the third in a series of launch related posts) is an approximation of my launch speech. I say approximation, because although I had notes, I actually winged a fair bit of it. Be that as it may, here we go…
Being asked to launch a book is a nerve-racking experience. You give a tentative YES and then you go off and read the book. But what happens if you don’t like it? Will the publisher and author be offended? Will they ever speak to you again? The anxiety increases exponentially when the author is a friend. Needless to say, I was terrified when I finally sat down to read Nil By Mouth.
I’m sure you could have heard my sigh of relief from half way across the galaxy when I started reading Nil By Mouth. By the time I had finished the first page I knew I was going to like this book. A few pages later, I knew I would LOVE IT! It hooked me in, right from its mysterious title; past its opening scene; along its various twists and turns and changes of direction; through to its unexpected but very appropriate ending.
Nil By Mouth is a good, old-fashioned science fiction story. By that, I mean that it’s a story in which the science fiction elements are integral, rather than simply being window-dressing. The alien culture, the concept of human beings being used as incubators — these things are a fundamental part of the story. And yet, there is also a great deal of emotion, characters development and relationship drama. I defy anyone to read this book and not feel like they’ve been put through an emotional wringer.
Much as I like the way in which humanity is portrayed in this book, it is the alien society, its intricacies and interactions with humanity that I love most. It’s intriguing, it’s complex and it’s subtle. The layered alien characters, the subtlety of the relationships and the intricacies of the aliens’ motivations. My favourite moment is when the protagonist realises that the insulting term used by his alien master in addressing him, is actually meant as a term of endearment. It implies so much and is beautifully handled.
Nil By Mouth is a story of SF ideas, held together in a narrative context by relationships — between humans and aliens; between humans and other humans; between aliens and other aliens.
I read the eBook in preparation for today’s launch. But this is the sort of book that I will read again; the sort of book I’ll pass on to my wife to read; the sort of book I’ll stick under the nose of my daughter in a few years; the sort of book I’ll spruik to my friends; and thus, the sort of book I MUST get autographed. I’m now reserving my spot at the head of the queue so that I can purchase a print copy. Don’t get in my way! You have been warned.
Congratulations LynC, on writing an excellent book, a thought-provoking piece of science fiction and a believable and likeable set of flawed characters. And let me say here that even the antagonists are sympathetic and likeable in their own way… which is no mean feet to achieve as a writer.
So now, it is my great pleasure and honour to declare LynC’s Nil by Mouth launched. Long may it sail the literary seas.
I promise to be back before Christmas with at least one more post. Perhaps a post some Christmas reading recommendations?
Catch ya later, George
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