Mark Reads ‘Lifeboats’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of Lifeboats, Kit faces the impossible. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

Oh, cousins, what have you gotten me into this time?

There is a terrible sense of grandeur to the opening of this book, one that filled me with dread. (And unless I’m told otherwise, I’m considering this a novel. It’s way too long to be a novella. I AM ALSO NOT COMPLAINING.) That is an incredible thing to pull off in less than five pages, but I’m not surprised. Duane has been mixing the impossible and the fantastical for this entire series. All of the previous books had something in them that was larger-than-life, something that was frightening and awe-inspiring. There was that alternate view of Manhattan, and there was the Deep. There was the planet of mobiles and the Pullulus.

I’m simultaneously gaining a further appreciation for Duane’s work as I’m making this very sudden transition to being an actual author myself. You’ve probably noticed me talking more about my own writing over the last couple years, and it mostly came from a desire to be open about what this whole process feels like. I’ve wanted y’all to be a part of that process because I hope to help inspire anyone who feels like they want to write, but might not the encouragement. I say all this because I am now discovering just how hard it is to combine genres. There’s the marketing aspect, which isn’t something I’m going to have to deal with for a while, but it is on my mind. How exactly does a publisher promote books that straddle the line between two genres of writing? (I am actually curious if y’all recall seeing ads or promotions for these books. What were they like? Did they seem to lean on the fantasy elements or the science fiction ones?)

But from a craft perspective, it is both freeing and frustrating to try to blur the lines. Duane seems to do this without effort, and I love how seamless this all feels. It’s a book about magic and wizards, and it is absolutely science fiction, too. Even in this opening chapter, you can see the threads that Duane is working with. We go from talk of wizardry to a hellish thing that appears to be descending into an unnamed planet, prepared to annihilate it. Is that Earth? Another world? What are those electric campfires? A metaphor or something real?

It’s certainly a creepy, unnerving image, and it’s made even worse by the apparent apathy of Kit. Why can’t he do anything? Where is everyone else? It is a brutally effective opening sequence, and it’s unlike any we’ve gotten in previous Young Wizards books. Yet it’s got that unmistakable combo of genres, and I AM JUST SO IMPRESSED OKAY. It is so hard to do! I say this because the first draft of Book #2 just might be two genres as well, but this shit is COMPLICATED.

Anyway, I’m excited to find out what the hell this is.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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