Plot Type: Portal Fantasy/Other-Dimensional Science Fiction
Ratings: Violence—4; Sensuality—2; Humor—2
1. "The Shootout Solution" (11/17/2015)
2. "The Absconded Ambassador" (2/23/2016)
3. "The Cupid Reconciliation (TBA)
EPISODE 2: "The Absconded Ambassador"
When a breach is discovered in Science Fiction World, rookie Genrenaut Leah Tang gets her first taste of space flight.
A peace treaty is about to be signed on space station Ahura-3, guaranteeing the end of hostilities between some of the galaxy's most ferocious races, but when the head architect of the treaty is unexpectedly kidnapped, it's up to Leah and her new colleagues to save the day. At any cost.
For me, the second episode was a bit disappointing, primarily because I am not a hardcore science fiction fan. Granted, each episode is required to be genre-specific because that's the whole point of its premise, but if you as a reader are not grounded in the genre-center of the story, the whole thing falls flat—and that's what happened to me with this story.
The Genrenauts—King, Roman, Shirin, and Leah—set out for Ahura-3 to rescue the kidnapped diplomat and save the treaty. They split up into boy/girl teams, with King and Roman taking on the action part of the story and Shirin and Leah negotiating with the various parties to the treaty—keeping them calm while the men get to do all of the fighting. We see the women's scenes through Leah's untrained eyes, giving Underwood a chance to add his world-building information to the story by having Shirin explain the oddities of the space station to Leah. Back in the first episode, Leah could choose which role she wanted to play, but in this one, she gets slotted into a passive observer role that briefly blossoms into some minor negotiating.
As the women sit through countless dinner parties and afternoon teas with a variety of creatures from other realms, the menfolk fight their way to the space station on which the kidnapped diplomat is being held and come to her rescue. Roman is forced to lean heavily into the action hero role in this story, which brings back memories from his mysterious and—so far—unexplored past.
|Cantina customers: Star Wars (1977)|
To give you a taste of the complexities of this outer-space world, here is a descriptive list of the six principal civilizations involved in the proposed Alliance: "The Terrans; the Ethkar, a race of warrior-priests with bumpy heads and pointy ears; the Gila-monster-elephant people, who were called the Gaan; as well as the Enber, the tall bearded race…; the Jenr, the four-armed blue people; and a pair of races that had purple and pink skin, but otherwise looked like humans, called the Nai and Yai, who shared common origins." There is another race, called the Ra'Gar (the villains), but no one is quite sure what they look like. Additionally, "this world had…dozens of cultures and histories, alien technologies, and more." Each time the Genrenauts interact with members of these different races, we get lots more details about their appearance, which mostly serves to slow down the pace. For example: "The Yai thought the Nai were lazy, the Nai thought the Yai were callous and greedy. Most people thought the Gaan were a little slow, the Nbere ambassadors were super-standoffish but had their secret proclivities, and only the Gaan didn't think the Xenei were unnerving." Perhaps this is meant to be humorous, but it just didn't work for me.
I'll keep reading this series in the hope that it will get back to the quality of the first episode. In the third outing, the wounded Genrenaut Mallery York returns to active duty, leaving Leah to wonder about her own place on the team. This time, the story breach is in the Rom-Com (romantic comedy) genre, so the story should be a good one as the team reunites a pair of soul mates. At the end of "The Absconded Ambassador," King explains that the breach in the Romance world is expected, "given the drop in use of and satisfaction with dating apps and a reduction in applications for marriage licenses."
Click HERE to view a video trailer for this novella. Click HERE to read an excerpt from "The Absconded Ambassador" on the novella's Amazon.com page by clicking on the cover art.
"GENRENAUTS is a science fiction series in novellas... Imagined as a TV series in prose form, GENRENAUTS will have six episodes per season, all building toward a larger plot.
"In GENRENAUTS, our Earth is just one of many in a multiverse. Each other Earth is the home to a familiar narrative genre: Westerns, Fantasy, Romance, Crime, etc. Each world is constantly playing out stories from its genre—archetypes and tale types smashing up against one another making tragedies and happily ever afters. But like any system, sometimes entropy takes hold, and a story breaks down. When that happens, the Genrenauts step in to fix the story.
"Because if they don’t, the dissonance from the broken story ripples over and changes Earth on a fundamental level. ([For example,] Science Fiction world goes off-track and scientific innovation stagnates, exploration halts; Fantasy world goes off-track and xenophobia rises, cultural rifts widen).
"Our series starts when Leah Tang, a struggling stand-up comic, is recruited to join the Genrenauts and discovers that her seemingly useless genre savvy is suddenly an essential skill for survival in the story worlds. She arrives just in time, as story breaches have been ramping up—coming faster and causing more ripples.
"Genrenauts has a plurality of narrative forebears: Quantum Leap, Planetary, Indexing, Leverage, The Middleman, and more. Compared to my other work, the series is most like the Ree Reyes books (Geekomancy, Celebromancy, etc.) but with its own tone and point of view."
Click HERE to view a video trailer for this series. Click HERE to read the Prologue and the first two chapters of "The Shootout Solution."
EPISODE 1: "The Shootout Solution"
Leah Tang just died on stage. Well, not literally. Not yet. Leah's stand-up career isn't going well. But she understands the power of fiction, and when she's offered employment with the mysterious Genrenauts Foundation, she soon discovers that literally dying on stage is a hazard of the job!
Her first assignment takes her to a Western world. When a cowboy tale slips off its rails, and the outlaws start to win, it's up to Leah—and the Genrenauts team—to nudge the story back on track and prevent a catastrophe on Earth. But the story's hero isn't interested in winning, and the safety of Earth hangs in the balance.
First, let me say that Underwood does an excellent job with the exposition that must be dealt with at the beginning of all new series. He starts with Leah Tang, a struggling stand-up comedian, and turns her into a new recruit for a team of Genrenauts that is based in Baltimore. Naturally, the team leader—Angstrom King—must explain the entire operation to Leah—a perfect way to slip the world-building details neatly and seamlessly into the story line.
Here are the members of Leah's team of Genrenauts: