I bought Ferrett Steinmetz’s The Flux during my last trip to Barnes & Noble, partly because it’s an Angry Robot novel, and Angry Robot is doing great stuff. But also because of its intriguing premise: a world where if you love something enough, your obsession will punch a hole in reality, creating unique magics and potentially giving you powerful abilities.
Turns out The Flux is the second novel in a loose trilogy which has been getting a lot of attention. The first one, Flex, was published last year, and the third, Fix, arrives this September. Joel Cunningham at Barnes & Noble.com has praise for the entire series.
We’d probably love Ferrett Steinmetz’ Flex trilogy for the premise alone — it’s a gritty, hilarious contemporary fantasy series about magic users in a world where your obsessions can can bore a hole through the fabric of spacetime and give you the ability to manipulate reality at will. But it’s all the extra bits (characters you will ache for, twisty plots, the baddest baddies, killer action sequences) that put it over the top, and onto our list of 2015’s best reads.
I suppose I should be annoyed that now I have to track down a copy of Flex, and wait for Fix to complete the story. But when a series sounds this promising, I’m more than happy to gobble up additional volumes.
[Click on any of the covers for bigger versions.]
Joel calls the series the Flex trilogy, but Angry Robot, Steinmetz, and Amazon.com all call it the ‘Mancer trilogy, so we’ll go with that.
The covers for all three are by Steven Meyer-Rassow.
Here’s the book description for Flex.
FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.
FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.
PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.
But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.
Flex was published by Angry Robot on March 3, 2015. It is 432 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $2.99 for the digital edition.
The Flux was published late last year. Here’s the description.
Love something enough, and your obsession will punch holes through the laws of physics. That devotion creates unique magics: videogamemancers. Origamimancers. Culinomancers.
But when ‘mancers battle, cities tremble…
ALIYAH TSABO-DAWSON: The world’s most dangerous eight-year-old girl. Burned by a terrorist’s magic, gifted strange powers beyond measure. She’s furious that she has to hide her abilities from her friends, her teachers, even her mother – and her temper tantrums can kill.
PAUL TSABO: Bureaucromancer. Magical drug-dealer. Desperate father. He’s gone toe-to-toe with the government’s conscription squads of brain-burned Unimancers, and he’ll lie to anyone to keep Aliyah out of their hands – whether Aliyah likes it or not.
THE KING OF NEW YORK: The mysterious power player hell-bent on capturing the two of them. A man packing a private army of illegal ‘mancers.
Paul’s family is the key to keep the King’s crumbling empire afloat. But offering them paradise is the catalyst that inflames Aliyah’s deadly rebellious streak…
The Flux was published by Angry Robot on October 6, 2015. It is 398 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover model was Lyndsey Clark.
Fix, the third and final volume, is due later this year. Here’s the publisher’s blurb.
America’s long sent its best SMASH agents overseas to deal with the European crisis. As of today, they decided dismantling your operation was more important than containing the Bastogne Broach. Now you’re dealing with the real professionals.
Paul Tsabo: Bureaucromancer. Political activist. Loving father. His efforts to decriminalize magic have made him the government’s #1 enemy – and his fugitive existence has robbed his daughter of a normal life.
Aliyah Tsabo-Dawson: Videogamemancer. Gifted unearthly powers by a terrorist’s magic. Raised by a family of magicians, she’s the world’s loneliest teenager – because her powers might kill anyone she befriends.
The Unimancers: Brain-burned zombies. Former ‘mancers, tortured into becoming agents of the government’s anti-‘mancer squad. An unstoppable hive-mind.
When Paul accidentally opens up the first unsealed dimensional broach on American soil, the Unimancers lead his family in a cat-and-mouse pursuit all the way to the demon-haunted ruins of Europe – where Aliyah is slowly corrupted by the siren call of the Unimancers…
Fix will be published by Angry Robot on September 6, 2016. It is 432 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition. See the exclusive cover reveal and additional details at B&N.com.
Ferrett Steinmetz’s 2011 novelette “Sauerkraut Station,” originally published at Giganotosaurus, was nominated for a Nebula Award (read the complete story here). His most recent short fiction includes:
“Four Scenes From Wieczniak’s Whisk-U-Away, And One Not” in Fantasy Scroll Magazine #2
“The Bliss Machine” in Three-Lobed Burning Eye
“In Extremis” in Space and Time Magazine
His website (with links to lots more online fiction) is here.
See all of our coverage of the best new fantasy here.