It’s been another tough year for writers. Sure, we
tell lies about our imaginary friends make up stories, but it really works best if our worst fears stay within their 85K word count instead of becoming POTUS.
Frankly, as the holidays approach this year, that special writer in your life needs more from you than pretending (again) to read their book or even buying it on Amazon. (Buying it yet again if you’re their mom.) They need you to go beyond reminding them about personal hygiene, putting on pants before they go out, or if they’ve been arguing with their characters out loud. (Again.)
Right now, your special writer needs some love. And what better time to show you care than the holiday season? Luckily, there are a lot of absolutely senseless gifts to gladden the heart of any writer. Last year I offered writerly-gift suggestions–
Practical gifts are out, of course, because if writers were practical…well, they certainly wouldn’t be writers. [see:It’s (still) not personal… It’s the (writing) business.]
- Going Places. Most authors agree that doing their own marketing is the worst part of the job. Here are a couple of things that will do it for your favorite writer. In style!
- Show the world what your favorite author has been doing for last month when they kept telling it to go away…
Wear your words! (Or the first 20,000 of them anyway…) NaNoWriMo winners scarf, $49 from Lithograph.
- Let your words fly!
Let your words fly! Custom Headcase suitcase wrap from Firebox starting at £19.99.
2. Peace and Quiet. There isn’t a writer alive who doesn’t
want to scream “STFU World!” express their desire for some version of the Cone of Silence. Until science catches up to TV though, you might try getting your writer away from it all. If you think outside the grid, peace might actually be cheaper than you might expect—
3. “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.”—Ogden Nash.
Inspiration and comfort comes in many forms.
- Some, like caffeine, are very good:
- Some are good and quick:
4. Cool Tech. You know you want it.
5. The well-dressed writer. Mwa-ha-ha-ha. Okay, there are a metric ton of T-shirts and other apparel items bearing writerly admonitions. But let’s face it. One of the enormous advantages of being a writer is that you never have to get dressed up. Or get dressed, for that matter. If any writers get up, pull on a clean and pressed outfit, and do their hair before they sit down to write…well, I don’t know them, but I do hope their new live-in lover lasts past that first week, because I’m pretty sure the grooming won’t.
6. Stocking stuffers. If your writer
has been very good pretty good hasn’t actually been arrested this year:
- For thriller writers:
- For historical fiction writers plus general literary boo-boos:
- For your favorite horror writer:
Of course, there is a fabulous gift that every writer dreams of but may be too shy to ask for themselves. It’s the one thing every person they know could do for them. It’s easy, and (in these days of below-subsistence-level book pricing) it’s even cheap. You can buy their book, read it, and then—here comes the gift part—write a review. Just tick off some stars, say a few words about almost anything at all (but the book is a good place to start) and you’re done. You don’t have to write a gift tag or wrap anything. Believe me, your writer will think it’s the best present you could ever give. (Unless you happen to be on the nominating committee for the Booker prize, of course. In that case, you might want to go with the two best words ever written.)
So Terry Tyler, here’s my review of your new novel, Legacy. (No, I probably won’t get around to sending a card either. Merry Christmas.)
Out of all the death and destruction has come the freedom to be who we really are.
A hundred years after the world was devastated by the bat fever virus, the UK is a country of agricultural communities where motherhood is seen as the ideal state for a woman, new beliefs have taken over from old religions, and the city of Blackthorn casts a threatening shadow over the north of England. Legacy travels backwards in time to link up with the characters from Tipping Point, Lindisfarne and UK2.
Seventeen-year-old Bree feels stifled by the restrictions of her village community, but finds a kindred spirit in Silas, a lone traveller searching for his roots. She, too, is looking for answers: the truth behind the mysterious death, forty years earlier, of her grandmother.
In 2050, Phoenix Northam’s one wish is to follow in the footsteps of his father, a great leader respected by all who knew him…or so his mother tells him.
In 2029, on a Danish island, Lottie is homesick for Lindisfarne; two years earlier, Alex Verlander and the kingpins of the Renova group believe they have escaped the second outbreak of bat fever just in time…
Book 4 of the Project Renova series rebuilds a broken country with no central government or law, where life is dangerous and people can simply disappear…but the post-Fall world is also one of possibility, of freedom and hope for the future.
My Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Legacy (Project Renova Book 4) by Terry Tyler
Tour de force. Google defines it as “An impressive performance or achievement that has been accomplished or managed with great skill.” In other words, a perfect description of Terry Tyler’s Project Renova series, including her latest novel, Legacy.
This is going to be a quick review, because actually I don’t have to say much about Legacy. If you haven’t read the earlier books in the series, you should not read this one until you do. If you have read them, you already know any review I wrote would just be icing on what’s already a masterpiece.
One of the hard parts of coming to the end of a series where you’ve gotten to know so many characters is that you want to know what happens to them. In Legacy, we find out, peering back through the filter of a hundred years. Since I’m urging you to read the entire series, I’ll try to avoid spoilers. But one of the things that never ceases to amaze me about Terry Tyler’s writing is how impossible it is to characterize it. Even within this series, she varies her style constantly, while exploring the wider vocabulary of post-apocalyptic world building.
For example the first book in the series, Tipping Point, presents the events in a thinly-veiled allegory of the zombie apocalypse. In Book 2, Lindisfarne, surviving characters shed the trappings of their lost “civilized” world like the lost boys of Golding’s Lord of the Flies, with some embracing the new reality and others clinging to the belief that their vanished world will somehow be restored. The third book, UK2, goes to an even darker place with parallels to Huxley’s Brave New World and the horrors of Nazi rule.
In Legacy, author Terry Tyler switches again, this time to the Orwellian dark humor of Animal Farm. I particularly enjoyed the way some characters channeled the same tropes. For example, Phoenix is the son of Dex, who (like Major, the boar in Animal Farm) espouses Marxist ideals while setting himself up in a leadership role. When he leaves Lindisfarne, Phoenix rallies an army to capture and build his new city, Blackthorn. Phoenix believes he’s Dex’s rightful successor, or at least the version of his father that his mother told him about. But after growing up with his mother’s filtered reality, Phoenix is more like Major’s successor, Snowball, the Trotsky-like pig who thinks he’s in control of his murderous lieutenants. But actually, Snowball has no control as his ideals for the equalities of animalism are subverted into, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In the same way, Phoenix realizes that his brave new city, Blackthorn, with its comfortable quarters for the leaders, only survives because of the labor of its slaves, whose hard work and devotion are rewarded by death in the arena, just as Animal Farm’s loyal Boxer the draft horse is sent to the slaughterhouse when he’s injured and can no longer work.
Other characters have their matches as well. Flora, for example, is like Animal Farm’s Mollie, the spoiled mare who misses her treats and ribbons, and so runs away from the farm. Interestingly, Flora’s story takes a big change, as she returns to Lindisfarne to become more like Clover, the motherly mare.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. History itself is a character, especially in this century-on wrap up. Seventeen-year-old Bree, descended from the first Lindisfarne residents, finds herself trapped by a world where women are valued only as servants and baby producers, and where travelers like her lover Silas are looked on with suspicion. And Phoenix tries to emulate Henry VIII, only to find himself imprisoned in an increasingly obese and physically failing body.
But there’s another theme as well, for the few who embrace the hard-learned lessons of the past. Lottie and Mac left Lindisfarne in search of Utopia, or at least the safe harbor represented by the island refuge of Baldur. But almost immediately they realize their mistake, and what Lindisfarne really means to them. Freedom.
‘I hope I love long enough to see what the generation after me makes of this strange world where there is no one to tell us how we should or shouldn’t live—’cause that freedom is the very, very best thing about it. I realised this, the other day. Out of all that death and loss has come the opportunity to be who we really are.’—Lottie, Legacy
That story is told through the eyes of Bree and Silas, descendants of the first Lindisfarne settlers, as they travel the roads of what was once northern England. Through their journey, we see what those future generations Lottie pictured have built, and how much they’ve given up. On that journey, as Bree and Silas’ relationship is built and tested, we see the results of that hundred years of struggle. Both Bree and Silas face injury and death, but also encounter heroes, generous strangers, and the self-awareness that comes from knowing both your own strengths and your history.
I am in awe of the achievement of the Project Renova series. As I’ve said before, the economics and the science are occasionally shaky. But that doesn’t matter because this is a character-driven story and ultimately, it’s the very real people whose actions and decisions are so compelling. Terry Tyler builds a whole world on the ruins of the one we know. But even more, she gives us fully-rounded, flawed, brilliant characters who don’t just drive the story, but demand their story be told. Give yourself or a reader you really like the gift of this whole series, and wait for the thanks.
- Book Title: Legacy (Project Renova Book 4)
- Genre: Post-apocalyptic/dystopian
- Publisher: Amazon (22 October, 2018)
- Pages: 538