Thursday, February 21, 2019

Thursday Morning Superhero

This past week I had the good fortune of attending the Alita Experience with my family and watching the new movie from Robert Rodriguez and company. After hanging out with my family at Kansas Bar and solving some puzzles in Iron City, we were excited to check out the movie. We were all pleasantly surprised with the movie and hope that it does well enough to bring us a sequel. I have been reading the manga on ComiXology Unlimited and am impressed with the movie adaptation. Now I need to track down the anime from the 90's.

Pick of the Week:
Star Wars Adventures #18 -  This all-ages book continues to entertain as we are treated to some classic Jar Jar hi-jinx!  You may not have the same affinity for our clumsy Gungan friend, this short story focuses on Amidala helping Jar Jar find a lost treasure for Boss Nass. We are treated to a series of tests that Amidala conquers with her wit and bravery and Jar Jar stumbles through despite being a bumbling fool. If you don't want any Episode I flashbacks you may want to steer clear of this title. If you have a soft spot in your heart for Jar Jar and the intent of Episode I like I do then this will be right up your alley.

The Rest:
Sharkey The Bounty Hunter #1 - Mark Millar's partnership with Netflix continues with a sci-fi mini-series featuring a Bounty Hunter and his 10-year old buddy he agrees to take across the galaxy after arresting his uncle. Millar does a nice job introducing us to the seedy world that this series exists and to a cast of characters that are going to plan a big role as a billion dollar bounty has just been announced. While on paper it sounds a little Cowboy Bebop/Firefly-ish, I have a feeling that Millar will push the boundaries on what Netflix will allow him to produce and the story is likely to be more succinct as this is being developed into a film. While I wasn't blown away by the first issue, I am intrigued enough to see where this is headed. It felt like I just watched a pilot that I am green-lighting for a full season.

Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1 - With a cover like this there was no way I could avoid this book and am somewhat confused and itching for the next issue. Gerry Duggan gives the readers a quick summary of the events that have happened in the Marvel Universe over the past year and with how many times the Infinity Stones have re-written things, brought people back from the dead, and countless other changes, I am at a bit of a loss.  Having said that, Wolverine is back and the Infinity Stones have now been fused with the souls of select individuals thanks to Adam Warlock. It seems a new quest for the stones is upon us and I do enjoy a good quest. First stop is my home state of Texas to boot!

Guardians of the Galaxy #2 - When we last left this title a while back Thanos' body, minus his head, had just been taken by the Black Order following his death. Gamora, who just killed Thanos, fled after she nearly destroyed the world. Thanos had a plan to avert death by uploading his conscious into a worthy host and it is feared that Gamora is that host. The Black Order seeks to kill Gamora and the newly formed Guardians is leaning towards saving her. That is if Starlord can come to grips with the fact that Gamora "killed" him.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Microreview [Book]: The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Leckie's foray into fantasy delivers on mythology and worldbuilding, told through a distinctly non-human lens.

Cover design by Lauren Panepinto
Image by Arcangel Images
Ah, ravens. They're smart, they're beaky, they come in murders, and many in our world are better Londoners than I am. They're also the subject of more than their share of both folklore and, through that, fantasy interest. Whether they're harbingers of death, guides to the spirit world, speakers of prophecy and truth or otherworldly tricksters, there's a lot of mileage in these feathery next-level dinosaurs. Now, in Ann Leckie's first novel-length foray into fantasy, a raven god is front and centre, alongside a cast whose human members often play second fiddle to their divine counterparts.

Many readers will be familiar with Leckie for her science fiction work: the superlatively brilliant Ancillary Justice, its sequels, and the same-universe standalone Provenance. On the surface, The Raven Tower is a very different book. We find ourselves in Vastai, a low-tech, small-scale polity, whose citizens fear and worship the forest, envy the better harbour of their neighbour (in one timeline, at least) and have come to rely on the blessings of a specific god to keep their town flourishing. Gone are the spaceships and corpse soldiers, but the presence of the gods themselves - who are very much real in this world, and regularly appear to humans - means that The Raven Tower feels just as connected with non-human intelligences as Leckie's previous works, and just as accomplished at giving those intelligences believable motivations and voices.

(The rest of the review has spoilers for a very early reveal. If you want to go into the Raven Tower without forewarning, stop reading here - or come back once you're 5% of the way in and know what I'm talking about!)

The Raven Tower leans into its myth-heavy, language-driven setting, not least by setting up a second person narrative: a mysterious voice who addresses the ostensible protagonist, Eolo, as if telling his own story to him. In the opening scenes, this narrator is present but not directly involved in the action, and the voice's narration of these scene-setting events - in which Eolo's companion Mawat, the heir to the Raven Tower, returns to witness the death of his father - feels oddly full of conjecture and uncertainty, as it reflects both Eolo's uncertainty and the voice's own unfamiliarity with him. This uncertainty is a jarring place to start a story, but it's worth the effort as we establish the parameters of the world of Vastai: a land ruled not by a monarch but by a "lease", a hereditary ruler given powers and privileges by their Raven god, but compelled to sacrifice themselves when the Raven's "instrument" (their animal body) dies. Mawat, who has been brought up expecting to ascend on his father's intentionally premature death, arrives back to instead learn that his father appears to have fled the tower and his uncle has taken on the Lease's position instead. This should be impossible, based on how the Raven has always operated, and Mawat's reaction to the discovery sets in motion a chain of events that threaten the very foundations on which the Tower and its inhabitants stand.

It very quickly becomes clear, however, that this is not just Eolo's story, but that of our narrator - and that our narrator is not, as it initially seems, a human servant in the Raven Lease's employ, but a god in their own right. Most often referred to as The Strength and Patience of the Hill (though, for the sake of simplicity and help anyone still skimming while hoping to not get too spoiled, I'll keep referring to them as "the narrator"), the character addressing us is revealed to be immeasurably old, potentially very powerful, and has sat unmoved through geological ages of change and comparatively recently found themselves interacting with humans. Existing fans of Leckie's work will find it easy to believe in her ability to turn this narrator - a large rock who hates almost all change on principle - into the novel's most compelling character. From here on out, the second-person adventures of Eolo and the humans of Vastai are interspersed with the narrator's history and their interpretations of the events of the present. In Leckie's world, gods gain power from human worship and offerings, and are able to change reality using this power - but they must be careful not to deplete their own strength in doing so. The risk a god of any size faces is how to ensure they can sufficiently impress and meet the demands of their worshippers - and, perhaps, see off challenges from rival gods in the process - while not giving up too much of themselves in the process, or making promises that force them into doing so in future.

What the narrator's identity does mean is that the characterisation and interactions of the human characters in the "present" sections are deliberately viewed through a lens of distance and opaqueness. It takes some considerable time to gain an understanding on Eolo beyond what the narrator guesses about him at the start of the tale, plus a few external observations which make it clear that he is a trans male character; many of the other human characters are given only hints of characterisation through understated or indirect means. While this is entirely in keeping with the position of the narrator and their understanding of humans (and selective interest in what makes them interesting), it did make the start of the novel slower and more challenging to get into than I expected. Leckie is so good at portraying human modes of affection and care (even when they're being filtered through non-human characters like Breq) that it's hard not to miss that here, but the comparative lack of focus on relationships and connection in the novel's early stages means that the connections that do develop on the page - not least that between the narrator and The Myriad, a fellow god who enjoys manifesting as a cloud of mosquitoes - are that much more precious and interesting.

As you'd expect from an author with Leckie's skills, the plotting, especially the weaving together of the past and present narratives, is spectacular. Central to this are the twin mysteries of the book's past and present: what's going on with that whole Raven Lease thing, and, somehow more interestingly, how did a rock whose sole previous experience with movement was "hover off the ground by a foot for a few minutes" apparently travel hundreds of miles to become linked with the Raven Tower? Again, likely because of the nature of the narrator, it was the human plotline that took longer to warm up for me, but once it does it's pretty great, setting up a culture whose elites are intricately tied to gods whose reality and power has never been questioned. Of particular note is the delegation from Xulah, a trio of foreigners who take an early interest in Eolo but clearly have their own agenda at play, involving their own snake god and Vastai's larger neighbour Ard Vustika. However - and given the banal content of some of these scenes, I can't quite believe this is true - it was the elements from the narrator's past that I found myself waiting for, time and time again. This means, just to be entirely clear, that I was comparatively speeding through sections on political intrigue and protest in order to get back to the narrator's time waiting out a mini ice age or establishing god-specific language for B vitamins. The characterisation is just that good.

Ann Leckie's last couple of books have been on the comfort reading side for me, and on a personal level, I did miss that from The Raven Tower. However, that should in no way be taken as a criticism of what it does deliver. The elements that make The Raven Tower dense and alien and unsettling are also what makes it so good, and if you give it time and attention, this is an immensely rewarding read. I'll be eagerly watching the skies for Leckie's next book, and giving any giant rotating stones and smart-looking ravens in my future the respect they clearly require.

The Math

Baseline Score: 8/10

Bonuses: +1 I have never been so interested in all-powerful sentient rocks

Penalties: -1 It's initially hard to get past the lack of connection with human characters

Nerd Coefficient: 8/10

POSTED BY: Adri is a semi-aquatic migratory mammal most often found in the UK. She has many opinions about SFF books, and is also partial to gaming, baking, interacting with dogs, and Asian-style karaoke.

Reference: Leckie, Ann. The Raven Tower [Orbit, 2019].

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Microreview [Book]: The Outcast Hours edited by Mahvesh Murad & Jared Shurin

There's a fine line between an anthology not really holding together and being intriguingly diverse. Every reader of The Outcast Hours by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin probably has their own opinion on which side the book ultimately falls for them.

It is very diverse: there are stories about a toothfairy, feuding apothecaries, a babysitter for criminals' children, a babysitter for homeless dogs. Sam Beckbessinger, Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen's opening story is one of the best pieces of socially relevant occult gore short fiction I've ever read – I confess I didn't know there's such a niche before picking the book up.

Night is a great theme for a short story anthology. It is mysterious, atmospheric, intriguing, fleeting and uncertain – as all enjoyable art and fiction – so there's plenty of room to play with and not too many restrictions on where you can go. My main criticism of the anthology is that quite many of the stories leave these possibilities on the table and focus on night just being synonymous with darkness.

I mean, in some stories, night is not a mysterious landscape for whatever you can dream up. Instead, it's a place of nightmares. On the other hand, that's probably entertaining for readers who enjoy whispering to their protagonists that going down to the basement with an enigmatic, sargophagus-collecting millionaire in Karachi or to the home of a bit-too-eager Tinder date in New York City is arguably not the best thing to do if you're in this kind of a book. Nevermind the continent, your chances of living long and happy are going to take a dive.

However, this whispering business is not what I'm into when it comes to horror. I appreciate horrific stories that do a little more to make me afraid than relying solely on a spooky twist-ending, as demonstrated by Beckbessinger, Beukes and Halvorsen's great opening for the book. I fear that even that would have lost some of its power if the editors had decided to place it deeper in the anthology after some other horrors had numbed my senses first.

The best part of reading anthologies like this is of course discovering interesting new authors you had never heard of before. For me, the most promising new acquaintance is maybe Matt Suddain whose tale about two chemists in a weird fantasy (or maybe not) town that is too small for both of them is quirky, weird and suggestive with perfect dosages of each. Suddain delivers his simple story just right, which isn't that easy to do.

In the short space that each story is given, some tales feel that they would have what it takes for being longer, whereas some others seem a bit forced at this length. Couple of the stories would probably have worked better in the same form as China MiƩville's ambient one-or-two-page microstories or vignettes sprinkled through the book, as not very much is always happening.

Because the stories are so short, there's a lot of them – 25 in total, not counting MiĆ©ville's nine short-shorts. There's something to like and dislike for everyone, and the best way to experience The Outcast Hours is perhaps not to accelerate through it (it's a rapid series of accelerations and sudden stops) but rather to read one or two before before going to sleep – or at any rate before the night comes.

Good night and good luck!

The Math

Base Score: 8/10

Bonuses: +1 for variance and diversity

Penalties: -1 for the cheap scares, -1 for doing too many things at once

Nerd Coefficient: 7/10 – "An enjoyable experience, but not without its flaws"

Reference: Murad, Mahvesh & Shurin, Jared (eds). The Outcast Hours [Solaris 2019]


POSTED BY: Spacefaring Kitten, an extradimensional enthusiast of speculative fiction, comics, and general weirdness. Contributor since 2018.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Nanoreviews: The Breath of the Sun, Chaos Choreography, Magic for Nothing

Fellman, Rachel. The Breath of the Sun [Aqueduct Press, 2018]

The Breath of the Sun is a novel about the journey, not a destination. Rachel Fellman's debut novel is a deeply thoughtful meditation on mountain climbing, religion, relationships, regret, loss, and probably more.

There is a mountain so large the peak isn't visible and special suits are required to even attempt a serious attempt at a summit, a mountain so large it is revered as a god. There might be magic, it might be a less understood form of science. The story of The Breath of the Sun isn't about conquering of a god or about some mystical adventure. It's a personal story, an intense and icy travelogue, a character study, and it is absolutely wonderful.
Score: 8/10

McGuire, Seanan. Chaos Choreography [DAW, 2016]

After two novels focusing on Alex Price, Seanan McGuire returns to the protagonist of the first two novels of the Incryptid series Verity Price. Verity has given up her dreams of competitive dance and has turned to the family trade of being a cryptozoologist, dedicated to preserving and protecting those non human creatures the rest of the world only believes are myth (if even that). That is, until she gets a call to participate in an all-star season of Dance or Die, the reality dancing show she was once a runner up on.

Chaos Choreography is the fifth Incrytpid novel, so by this point you have a really good idea of what you're going to get. For a fifth novel, this is a surprisingly good place to jump into the series since McGuire does enough of the work to smooth the ride. Sure, you won't be nodding your head in understanding certain callbacks, but you have what you need. If you haven't been following the series, you get: a good dose of "weird" creatures being perfectly normal, conspiracy, action, murder, cultural understanding (and misunderstanding), attempts to be better, wise cracks, tension, and excitement. We learn more of Verity's family and the wider crytpid world. It's a delight.
Score: 7/10

McGuire, Seanan. Magic for Nothing [DAW, 2017]

Magic for Nothing is the sixth Incryptid novel and the first to feature Antimony, the youngest of the Price siblings. Magic for Nothing is all about the fallout from Verity's actions at the end of Chaos Choreography. The Covenant of St. George knows that Verity is alive and they're coming for the Price family. How to get some intelligence about what the Covenant is planning? Send Antimony under cover.

By this point you either trust McGuire to tell a hell of a story or you don't, and if you don't there's no reason to be reading this far into a series. McGuire tells one hell of a story and with Magic or Nothing we get our first look inside the Covenant as well as a deep dive under cover at a circus (plus a little roller derby). Through the first five novels Antimony has been a character mentioned, referred to and described, but never seen. There's been an outside view suggesting that she's a nearly homicidal child, but the truth is never that simple and Antimony is a far richer character than we could have guessed (besides being written by McGuire, which then we just know that she will be). Maybe don't start reading Incryptid with Magic for Nothing, but absolutely keep reading the series because this is another satisfying novel from Seanan McGuire.
Score: 7/10

POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 & 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.  

Friday, February 15, 2019

Microreview [book]: The Song of All, by Tina LeCount Myers

The Song of All uses Saami culture and mythology, as well as a crunchy set of characters and motivations to portray a frozen and bloody tale.

Irjan just wants to live a peaceful life as a farmer on the cold fringes of the tundra with his wife, Sohja. He has a past that he has not told her about, and frankly would far sooner forget. But when an ambitious priest decides that his key to escape the hardscrabble life on the edge of civilization is to motivate Irjan to action by means of a violent tragedy inflicted on his family, Irjan’s course will affect not only himself, the life of his child, or his people, but the fate of two races.

This is the story of Tina LeCount Myers’ The Song of All.

The opening chapters of the novel felt a bit rough and rushed, with the inciting incident of the novel coming off tempo. The novel feels like its in too much of a hurry to get to that point, at the expense of setting it up better. I think it could have been foregrounded better. We only afterwards really get a sense of who and what and why, and what it all means.

Once the novel gets past that and we get into the meat of the story, the novel settles into its strengths. Once we get a real sense of what Irjan is about, the black tragedy of his arc makes for a dark, but compelling read. Combine that with the Japmemeahttun, the race of immortals that man once warred with and that some would see that war prosecuted again. Theirs is a dying, diminishing race, who are raging against the dying of their light, but the press of mankind means that their days do indeed seem to be numbered. The slow inexorable decline of their race brings to mind novels revolving around the tragic fall of the Fae, particularly in, say, Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword. Indeed, not to spoil some things revealed in the background of the novel, there are other parallels to be made, too.

But while The Broken Sword goes for Norse and Germanic myth for its taproots for its worldbuilding and sets it in our Dark Ages, The Song of All elects to go northeast, to the Saami and Finish cultures and mythologies and stay strictly in a secondary world. This is not quite borrowing from the Kalevala, but it is inspired by the culture and legends.  The author has a penchant for a lot of loan words, further grounding the worldbuilding in that culture. While the language of the novel is descriptive and immersive, the author does not go into tremendous worldbuilding detail. We feel the cold thin existence on the edge of the tundra, writing that seeps that cold into the bones, but it's written so that the reader can bring many of the details themselves, rather than going into deep depth of description. It’s evocative rather than plainly descriptive writing, but it works very well for that.

This is a novel that reads  much more like a saga than an epic fantasy novel, and a saga told to locals more than a secondary fantasy novel in typical fashion trying to build that out. One could imagine Irjan’s story, as written here, being presented for the benefit of the inhabitants of that world, who would already know what, for instance, a duollji is. The novel is far more interested in actions, and the consequences of those actions. So while the novel is light on traditional worldbuilding, it is very strong on plot. There is a rich tapestry of character stories and motivations here that, when the novel gets out of that early roughness, propels the narratives of the characters forward in a very readable fashion

Irjan's story is at the heart, but the novel is full of characters with hopes, agendas and plans of their own. The scheming Apotti (priest), Rikkar.. His assistant, Siggur, equally ambitious in his own right. The Japmemeahttun, Ailllun and Djorn, seeking to try and follow the precepts and traditions of their culture to keep their race alive. And more.

However, in addition to a bit of a rough opening, I was not entirely satisfied with the end matter of the book. The novel, after that very solid core, suddenly slingshots the narrative far into the future in the last, shortest portion of the novel. That future feels much more sketched in, world and character wise, as compared to the richness of what has come before. That section seems to exist more for an event to occur than anything else, and it left me questions about the intervening years and just what has happened in that gap. I do understand wanting to, and being motivated to skip the “dull bits”.  With the majority of the book being so deep and rich in the characters and the plot, this felt like a too brief wade into the future of the series (there is another book coming) and it feels like an unsatisfactory bridge to me, thereby, to it.

Overall, however, the vividity of the characters and the plotting, and the language of the novel made this an enjoyable and intriguing epic fantasy experience to read. I will be curious where the series goes from here, based on the events of that last section.


The Math

Baseline Assessment: 7/10

Bonuses: +1 for immersive, poetic writing
+1 for a strong central character

Penalties: -1 for some roughness in the beginning that take some time to smooth out
-1 for an ending that feels like a compressed opening for a subsequent novel

Nerd Coefficient: 7/10: an enjoyable experience, but not without its flaws

Reference:  Myers, Tina Le Count, The Song og All, Night Shade Books, 2018]

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thursday Morning Superhero

This past week Tim Doyle had his final show in his Unreal Estate line of famous buildings/structures from pop culture at the Spoke Art gallery in San Francisco and it did not disappoint. I ordered three prints from the online sale and you can check out some of his work here featuring the Stonecutters, Princess Mononoke, Transformers, and other secret headquarters.

Pick of the Week:
Outer Darkness #4 - I saw a friendly tweet reminding me that the new Outer Darkness dropped this week and that John Layman was quite proud of this particular issue. That prompted me to purchase the second and third books, which slipped past my radar after enjoying the first, and after catching up it is important to note that Layman and artist Afu Chan have something really special in this book. Chan noted being inspired by Aliens and 2001: A Space Odyssey and his art shines through with how vibrant Chan makes the darkness of space feel.  A crew has been sent to the Outer Darkness on a highly classified mission to retrieve an individual that is crucial to the war. The captain appears to have his own agenda and is not making any friends in the process. Learning about the concepts of death and rebirth have really fueled this series in a way like no other book I've read. The ethical ramifications of retrieving souls and re-imprinting them on bodies are central to the book and the current twist of having a former God navigating the ship is one to keep an eye on.  I am glad I saw that tweet and was motivated to add a few additional books to my pull list this week.

The Rest:
Criminal #2- In a bit of a surprise, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips introduce a new story into the one they debuted last month. This book focused on former comic book artist Hal Crane who needed a handler to ensure he attends all of the appropriate events and a comic book convention over the weekend. Jacob, who was an aspiring artist and one of Hal's assistants back in the day, has been hand selected for the job and is trying to understand why.  Brubaker and Phillips toss in a couple of clues surrounding the shady death of one of Crane's co-workers and mention that Crane has a reputation for stealing art from editors desk to sell on the collectors market. It was an interesting turn, and one that is setting up a comic book art heist, but it didn't draw me in like the first issue. I am going to trust this team that the slow pace is intentional and look forward to resolving both stories.

Gideon Falls #11 - Like any other attempt to contact other dimensions, it doesn't bode well for those who are able to finally break through. Theh Weirdmageddon in Gravity Falls was a result of one such breach, the many horrors in Fringe, and it appears that there is a being between the realms that has been waiting for someone to return to the black between the different worlds in Gideon Falls. This was a very surreal issue that left us in a situation where there is now an invader in Gideon Falls and the implications are likely to change this series substantially.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Microreview [book]: Ninth Step Station by Malka Older, Fran Wilde, Jacqueline Koyanagi, and Curtis C. Chen

Suddenly Derailed

Tokyo is divided. In the (somewhat) near future, an war with China leaves Tokyo with a Chinese occupation and US-led military peacekeepers. The police force has to contend with both as they go about their duty of upholding the law. Ninth Step Station follows detective Miyako Koreda and her newly assigned peacekeeper partner Emma Higashi as they solve crimes, learn to deal with each other, and try to douse some of the fires that could result in a renewal of the war.

Ninth Step Station is a Serial Box product, which means I got to read the first 10 "episodes" which I assume comprise a season 1. Each episode is approximately novella size.

This format worked well for Ninth Step Station. With a limited number of authors, the deviations in voice and tone between each episode were pretty much non-existent. Every now and then, a character would do something a little out-of-line, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well each story flowed into the next. This is a police procedural, like Law & Order: SVU in a slightly futuristic Tokyo. Each episode follows a new case, but this isn't the kind of thing you could shuffle up and put into any order. Actions in previous stories have impacts later in the series, which is a nice touch. The stories themselves range from a really intriguing mysteries to a little plodding but not terrible.

Where they've nearly lost me, and it remains to be seen if I'm still in it, is the ending of the last episode. It's really not an ending at all. It's like they've built up to a crescendo and then stopped. I had to ask for confirmation that my copy wasn't missing some final chapter or epilogue. I was really put off by how it ends because it doesn't end anything, neither the novella episode nor the novel season. I want this series to continue, but I also expect some satisfying conclusion to the 10 episode season, and I didn't get that.

As with most serialized media, there's a chance this thing never sees a season two and this particular series will suffer badly for it. It stops mid-sentence (figuratively), and I'll be really unhappy if it doesn't continue. But the build up to that non-ending is totally enjoyable. It's an exciting, complex weaving of many strands of plots across personal and national conflicts.


The Math
Baseline Assessment: 8/10

Bonuses: +1 Chinese detectives Liu and Wong are perfectly crafted scumbags.

Penalties: -2 WHERE. WAS. THE. ENDING?

Nerd Coefficient: 7/10 (an enjoyable experience, but not without its flaws)


POSTED BY: brian, sci-fi/fantasy/video game dork and contributor since 2014

Reference: Older, Malka, Wilde, Fran, Koyanagi, Jacqueline, and Chen, Curtis C. Ninth Step Station (Serial Box, 2019)