Book Report Corner

by Rachel R.

Everything For Everyone cover

Everything For Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052-2072 by M.E. O’Brien and Eman Abdelhadi is the story of a successful (almost) worldwide revolution, and, more challenging, a successful utopia. After capitalism has trashed the planet, a series of global uprisings restructure the economy, the city, the family, the relationship between humans and the environment, and even space. The clever structure of the book—a series of interviews with people who experienced different parts of the revolution or who now play interesting roles in the Commune—allows for a massive scope that nevertheless feels grounded in real people and real communities.

This is a tremendously hopeful book, positing thoughtful solutions to the worst problems of our age. But it never shies away from the trauma and grief of the old world’s destruction, and what really sold the story for me is the points at which the interview subjects break down, stumble, and otherwise remind us that these are humans living through an age of change.

I adored this sharp, poignant vision of a better world rising from the ashes of the old.

Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

Weathering the Storm cover

Sabitha: We’re talking to Macy Lewis about her forthcoming novel, Weathering The Storm. Macy, can you introduce us to your book?

Macy: I wrote my novel Weathering The Storm with a dear friend, Jim King. Jim created the title, theme of the book, and so much more. He’s very clever and we’re writing our second book now, Loma.

When two strangers are asked to investigate unexplained weather that is terrorizing the world, they must overcome the trauma and wounds in their past, to move forward with their mission and unexpected romance. Will they be able to weather the emotional storms that come their way, or will they sink in their own despair?

Sabitha:  Which character do you relate to the most and why?

Macy: I relate to my main character, Charmaine, because she’s blind like me. Char’s my first blind character, and it was so fun to write about a subject that I understand so well.

Sabitha: The book is obviously very close to your heart. What do you most want your readers to take away from reading your book?

Macy: I hope people learn that a disability doesn’t define someone, rather, their personality and heart are what truly makes us special.

Sabitha: What do you love about the writing process?

Macy: I love writing because it allows me to imagine the world in my own way, which is really special because I’ve never seen the world like most people. All of my books are collaborative efforts between me and my friends and family, who are on my writing team. My writing team are so kind to let me create characters after them, read my work and give feedback, help me find illustrators and editors who are in their friend circles, or answer questions about subjects they are experts in when I want to ensure my research is correct.

I love the whole writing process. Sometimes it can drive me crazy when I have to change a plot, or cut a scene I’ve spent so much time writing, but in the end, I know it’s worth the headache. I also love putting my personality into characters and letting my imagination run wild with the storylines I create.

Sabitha: Thanks for sharing your story and your process. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?

Macy: They can find my books at their favorite online bookstore, but here’s my Amazon page. They can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Awesome News Is Awesome

Digital art featuring four people, three of them in aviator jackets and one in a sci-fi type body suit. The one in the body suit is tall and pale, with four arms. Beside them is a tall blonde girl with curly hair. On her right is a smaller dark haired young man with a tiny black dinosaur on his shoulder. They are both wearing the same style of jacket. On the far left is a tall black young man wearing a duster.

Marten got signed by a literary agent!!!!!!

Our very own Marten Norr, Night Beats Artist-in-Residence and illustrator of The Sad Bastard Cookbook: Food You Can Make So You Don’t Die, is also an author. A really, really good author. He’s just been recognized as a creative triple-threat—his novel Oath and Entropy was signed to literary agent Maeve MacLysaght at Copps Literary Services

Stay tuned for future updates, so you can find out how to get your very own copy of a novel described as “What if the movie 1917, but with magic and dinosaurs and the queer isn’t subtext?” Til then, follow Marten on Twitter or Instagram.

Beyond Cataclysm is now selling Night Beats books!

Logo of Beyond Cataclysm

Want to support a fantastic micro-publisher and book store, Beyond Cataclysm, and support Night Beats at the same time? Now you can!

Beyond Cataclysm is a micro-publisher and book store. They sell awesome things made by lovely people, and make podcasts about writing and games with lots of interesting guests. You may remember the episode of their This Book I Read podcast featuring Rachel A. Rosen, or you might know and love their What is Roleplay? podcast. Their work combines charitable giving and environmental stewardship in their projects, and lovely people in their authorship.

They are now stocking copies of The Sad Bastard Cookbook: Food You Can Make So You Don’t Die, Query, and Cascade in their online bookstore! Or look for copies when you see them at conventions.

Happy reading!

Rachel A. Rosen Talks Publishing, Science Fiction, and the Communist Vision at Two Panels!

The Middle Path: Small Press Publishing at the Nebulas May 12, 4:00 PM Pacific

Rachel A. Rosen will be speaking at two events this month!

On Friday, May 12, 4 pm PST, she will be joining a virtual panel on The Middle Path: Small Press Publishing at the Nebulas. In between traditional publishing and self-publishing lies the land of small press. Authors who’ve been published by small publishers and editors or directors of small publishing companies discuss the joys and stresses of taking part in this alternative path to publication. Register at

On Saturday, May 20th, she’ll be at The Great Transition: Struggling in Times of Global Crisis conference in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, at the the Science Campus of the Université du Québec à Montréal, in the SH Pavilion (200 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal). Rachel will be joining M.E. O’Brien and Eman Abdelhadi in conversation with Megan Kinch on Science Fiction and the Communist Vision. For more information or to register, visit The Great Transition.

Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

The Stolen Child Cover

Sabitha: We are delighted to have author and environmentalist Clara Hume here, to tell us about her eco-fiction novel, The Stolen Child. Clara, take us away!

Clara: The final part of the Wild Mountain duology, The Stolen Child, picks up two decades after the events in the first book, Back to the Garden, and focuses on the continued lives of the characters, and their new children, including Fae—Fran and Leo’s youngest child. A bright but reserved girl, who would rather be riding her horse in the mountains or reading a spectacular novel than socializing with the rest of the ranch family, Fae begins to shed innocence as she learns of the changing world outside her bubble. A mysterious cult is making appearances, as if extreme climate events weren’t bad enough. Rumor has it that children are missing. As Fae begins to sense she is being watched, the family is forced to move off their Idaho mountain after a wildfire ruins their homes. They make a decision to head north to an old grizzly bear sanctuary in the British Columbia rainforest. Just as Fae is getting settled in, a religious cult kidnaps her and takes her to Ireland.

Sabitha: There’s so much happening there—the intersection of climate change with extremism but also with daily life. What inspired you to write this book?

Clara: I wrote Back to the Garden (Part I) because I was wondering why climate change had not found its way into many novels. Writing about climate change, which is known as a hyperobject, is difficult to do. You have to break it down into something manageable for the reader. Back to the Garden was meant to be a stand-alone novel, but a few years later I found myself writing the sequel, The Stolen Child. I had also started the website, which is all about eco-fiction—fiction that has strong ecological themes—so I began to find patterns and related topics, such as diaspora, that found its way quite naturally into eco-fiction. The sequel included some of these themes.

Sabitha: Was there any music that inspired you while you were writing?

Clara: My mother was born in a log cabin in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky. Her ancestors came from Ireland and Scotland, so I often heard relatives playing bluegrass. Gaelic music, along with the African banjo and Appalachian revival music, inspired a lot of my writing. We also visited cèilidhs in our own province as I wrote the novel. I based the main characters off my mother’s descriptions of how she grew up as well as my own memory of that poverty-stricken area of eastern Kentucky. The simple but resilient ways of mountain people inspired a lot of scenes in the Wild Mountain series. Many of the characters are loosely based on my memories of eastern Kentucky and our trip with Mom to Ireland later.

Sabitha: I love how you’ve woven your own story into this book. How did you choose the title?

Clara: “The Stolen Child” is a WB Yeats poem. Both its figurative and literal meanings are referenced in the novel. Yeats often wrote about cultural trappings vs. the wonderment of nature and a simpler life, which inspired the characters in the Wild Mountain series. I wrote The Stolen Child about eight years after Back to the Garden. During that gap, we visited Ireland, and I just knew I wanted to include some place-writing about Ireland. We made it a point to do some trail-running to places mentioned in Yeats’ poetry.

Sabitha: I can see that location was really important to you when you were writing this book. Can you tell me a bit about the setting in BC?

Clara: Part of the story takes place in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. I used to live near there,and we’ve traveled to many of its isolated rainforests. Of all the places I’ve lived or visited, British Columbia is the most beautiful. The rainforests there are considered the lungs of the Earth, and they offer such an amazing place to run, raft, hike, and do some amateur photography. I was fascinated by the iconic spirit bear of the area, which is a black bear with a recessive gene that makes its coat cream-colored. It’s rare, and I’ve never seen one. In the story, Fae has the same fascination and wants to see one some day. 

Sabitha: Thanks for sharing your story and your process. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?

Clara: You can find me on Mastodon. The Stolen Child can be ordered directly from the publisher, from Malaprops Bookstore, or from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

Beyond Human Cover

Emma: Anna Otto is contributing with a short story in Lower Decks Press forthcoming anthology Beyond Human: Tales of the new us. Anna, how did you come up with the idea to your story? What inspired you?

Anna: In my non-writing life, I’m a psychiatrist. Seeing the proliferation of online and computerized treatment options for mental health has been interesting and puzzling – I had always felt that humans preferred a connection with another human and believed this to be the necessary part of healing. And yet, as a past programmer, I could also envision the possibility of creating an advanced program capable of assessing human facial expressions, breaking down emotions to 0s and 1s, and responding accordingly. After all, one highly effective treatment for anxiety and depression is cognitive behavioral therapy, which at the core is a series of algorithms and “if-then” statements. As a writer, I dreamed big and created Gabriel, the AI therapist anyone would like to have. Read my anthology story, “A Work in Progress”, to see if you agree.

Emma: As you mentioned, the main character in your story, Arthur, regularly sees an AI therapist. Is it something you see will happen in the foreseeable future or is it a utopia? Is it even desirable?

Anna: While I don’t see this happening in the immediate future, I believe that humans can create AI that is smarter and has far greater capacity for understanding human emotions than what we have right now (the recent publicized stories of “creepy behavior” by AI concern me as much as anyone else). Is it desirable? The psychiatrist in me wants to say no, as I’d like to think myself indispensable to my patients, current and potential. I still believe in the human connection and mutual regard as the necessary ingredients for healing, however messy and unpredictable humans are (and therapists are human and imperfect). However, I can also see the advantages to the computerized model of treatment. AI is not subject to the negative human emotions or uncomfortable countertransference that may impact the treatment efficacy. Further, with the current shortages of mental health professionals, I see many people being forced to turn to alternatives such as AI when this becomes a possibility. My preference would be for training more psychiatrists though.

Emma: Can we look forward to something more about Arthur in the near future? What writing projects are you working on at the moment?

Anna: If I were to write more about Arthur, I fear I’d write a neat resolution – and I don’t favor those in my stories. I love him, the hopeless human that he is, and I have the best hopes for him – but I will let the readers imagine what his ultimate ending is.

I’m forever working on my series of a post-apocalyptic North America, the first novel of which is titled The Face of the Snake. The setting is but a background to messy human relationships. I’ve written two sequels – all before editing and publishing the first book. This is where all my effort is going now. I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world.

Emma: I loved your story about Arthur, and I’m looking forward to reading The Face of the Snake! Where can Night Beats readers find “A Work in Progress”?

Anna: The Face of the Snake isn’t published yet so you’ll have to wait. But you can find the anthology for pre-sale at the Lower Decks Press website!

A Work in Progress Art
Art for “A Work in Progress” by Marten Norr

Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

Another Life cover

Sabitha: Sarena Ulibarri joins us to talk about her solarpunk novella, Another Life. Sarena, tell us about this warmhearted eco-fiction!

Sarena: Another Life is a science fiction novella set in a peaceful ecovillage called Otra Vida. When a scientific method of uncovering past lives emerges, the founder of Otra Vida learns she’s the reincarnation of the previous generation’s greatest villain. This shakes the foundations of Galacia’s identity and her position within the community, threatening to undermine the good she’s done in this lifetime.

Sabitha: What inspired you to write this book?

Sarena: What if there were a “23andMe” type test, but for reincarnation instead of ancestry? And how would a “good” person react to finding out their previous incarnation did some really bad things?

Sabitha: Tough questions! Was there any music that inspired you while you were writing?

Sarena: The playlist for this book starts with “Policy of Truth” by Depeche Mode, which captures the conflict Galacia feels about whether or not to reveal her past life to her community. 

Because they share the same soul, Thomas Ramsey’s song is also by Depeche Mode, “Walking in My Shoes.” Ramsey is who Galacia was in her previous life: he was a manipulator and con-man who knew he’d made a villain of himself, but he had his reasons. 

Sabitha: We have a lot of writers in our community. What’s your writing process?

Sarena: My process seems to be to write the wrong book first, and then yank out the spine and write a new book around that foundation. I’ve done this several times, though it’s not a method I recommend. Early drafts of Another Life had whole superfluous storylines and tangents. After letting the book sit for a couple of years, I went after it with a (metaphorical) cleaver, killing darlings with no remorse until I found the core of what I was really trying to say.

Sabitha: What book do you tell all your friends to read? Besides yours of course!

Sarena: A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys. It’s such a fresh take on alien first contact and the best example of solarpunk I’ve read yet.

Sabitha: Does the location the story takes place mean something to you or to the work?

Sarena: Because the story is about reincarnation, it seemed appropriate to set it in Death Valley. It’s a harsh and extreme place, but it’s also beautiful and full of life. That contrast fits the themes of Another Life quite well.

Sabitha: Thanks for sharing your story and your process. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?

Sarena: My website, Twitter, or Mastodon are the best places to find me! Preorder of Another Life is available from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, or direct from Stelliform Press.