Monthly Archives: April 2021

Ep063 The Poppy War

The Poppy War by RF Kuang

Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Author, RF Kuang’s debut novel, The Poppy War, is a story of realistic war and the horrors humans can inflict on one another.

Link to RF Kuang’s Lecture: “The Poppy War in Context: Asian American Speculative Fiction” (Oct 28 2020)



Ep062 Usman T Malik

Usman T Malik: The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family and The Wandering City

Usman T Malik is an award winning author, and among other awards is a winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction. In this episode Isaac and

The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family

  • A modern myth. The journey of the main character Tara as she handles her life and how her life leads her to try to find meaning in the world. The story threads the needle and lands an ending conveying a meaning of life that is not cliche or maudlin.
  • How to find meaning in the world?
    • How Tara and her brother are juxtaposed in how they live their lives. The brother leaves to find meaning when a death of a family member. The brother goes off and seeks answers in almost a type of revenge. Alternatively Tara continues on her life and tries to find meaning in science and her studies. Both ultimately end up going down the same path, to seek meaning.

The Wandering City

  • A mysterious city teleports around the world, and in this case appears in Pakistan. Told through a collection of short reactions, The Wandering City conveys the events, that at times are quite horrible, from a distant third person perspective.
  • Tone. The use of the distant third person perspective conveys the actions in the story as facts, but upon reflection we quickly see that there are quick horrific elements related to this city. The story leaves the reader haunted by the events and since these horrific elements are not fully expressed in the story, the single effect of horror is allowed to linger in the reader’s mind.

Links to the Works discussed in this episode

Upcoming Episodes


The Next Chapter Ep003 Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Reid and Isaac complete the first Next Chapter series with the third installment in the Red Rising Saga, and the conclusion of the original trilogy.

In This Episode

  • Trilogy Structure – Act One: the development of the world and the moment of entering Act Two as stepping into a new world or understanding the world in a new way. Act Two: Living within the society. Development of getting to know the world from a new perspective. Act Two often ends with a dramatic turn towards the negative. Act Three: Redemption. The turn from the negative loss, to lose something and then to rebuild.
    • Act One: Red Rising: Introduce the world and give a story that sets up the main character, Darrow to succeed and explore.
    • Act Two: Golden Son: Darrow views his previous world as a Gold. The reader understands the perspectives of the Golds from monologues from Nero and Octavia. Darrow lives within the Golden world, from a new perspective, and he understands there is a loss.
    • Act Three: Morning Start: Darrow transitions from a creature of war to need to become someone who is able to build. Darrow realizes he has a life and people to lose. Taking on these losses to realize that there is a need to build.
  • The Character of Roque – Roque is what the Society believes they are. Roque was raised by the Violet, philosopher-poet class. Roque was raised to believe the Society exists for any number of reasons. And from this upbringing Roque carries a romantic nature towards the Society, and that there is no other way organize the solar system. The logical, romantic way to organize the Society in a caste system. But Roque’s dream is not reality; however, Roque believes that this is as good as it could get.
    • Throughout Golden Son Darrow is expressing his truth to the variety of his Golden friends, but Roque, despite being kind, despite being a good friend, is kept on the outside.
    • In Morning Star, Darrow seeks redemption for Roque, but Roque refuses to live with his failure of losing the war for the Society. Roque’s death ceases his possibility of a redemption arc.
  • Book Climax vs Trilogy Climax – Each book in the series has its own structure that plays into the larger three-book structure. In Morning Star there are two clear candidates for the climax of the book vs trilogy: the battle of the Jupiter Moons and the finale on Luna.
    • In the battle of the Jupiter Moons, Darrow completes his journey to reclaim his lost glory.
    • Finale on Luna, the story is complete with Darrow completing his missions set out in Red Rising: to overturn Gold, but now with intention towards what comes next and rebuilding.

Upcoming Episodes: