The first serial installment of Far from Normal, a Rage Brigade & Supernormal Team-Up novella by Karen Eisenbrey and LeeAnn McLennan
Naming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.
Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times nightlife listings for abundant source material!
(Until live music returns, I am curating retrospective posts from past material. Dates indicate when the band was originally featured.)
SQUARE PIG IN A ROUND HOLE PANDEMIC EDITION #60
Shameless Self-Promotion: Join me and The Neverending Bookshop this afternoon, May 8 at 3 pm PDT, for a live Zoom event for my most recent fantasy novel, Death’s Midwife (Daughter of Magic Book 3). Author LeeAnn McLennan will interview me about the history of the book and world-building, then I will read excerpts and take questions from the audience. I will sign books ordered from Neverending during the event! More info and Zoom link here.
Appropriately enough, I’m continuing a series of posts celebrating fantasy and science-fiction themed band names. As ever, wash your hands, wear your mask, get your vaccine, and if you are able, please buy these bands’ music and merch while we wait for a better day.
Problem with Dragons
(March 21, 2015) I love the offhand way this diminishes terrifying and destructive creatures to the level of rodents or a leaky roof. Even so, with this kind of infestation, you’d better hope your pest control outfit has a wizard on staff.
Robotic About Us
(August 31, 2013) I’m partial to science fiction imagery generally, and I’m considering writing a robot romance, so this speaks to me.
(April 21, 2018) Speaking of sci-fi vibes … Searching old posts revealed how often I’ve used the term (17) even when not referencing this specific band.
(April 21, 2018) The protagonist of my garage-rock fairy tale The Gospel According to St Rage develops superpowers, which she can’t keep secret from her bandmates, but “The first rule of superpowers is parents can’t know about superpowers.” They won’t find out till the sequel.
(March 26, 2011) I have a character named Sedna in the backstory of a science fiction novel, so I had to include this one. For my own sci-fi reasons, I’d like to see them on a bill with Out Like Pluto; if Pluto is out, Sedna’s even further out.
Two last things before you go:
- My new thing in 2021 is The Rage Brigade, a Facebook group for conversation about fantasy, science fiction, superheroes, and music (and the intersections thereof). If that sounds like fun, come join us here.
- I share highlights from this blog in my quarterly author newsletter, The Storypunk Report, as well as news of what I’m writing and reading, upcoming events, and other goodies, including “Wizard in the Mosh Pit,” an exclusive short story just for subscribers. Click the link to check out the first ten issues and subscribe here for future issues. (Or just follow the blog for your weekly dose of band names.)
Emerge, the third book of this trilogy, turns up the heat on main character Olivia Woodson Brighthall. In book 1 Dormant, she belatedly manifested the supernormal abilities she had rejected as a child after the death of her mother and began training with her cousins to hunt monsters and fight bad guys. In book 2 Root she grew in skill and confidence and embarked on a road trip with her cousins (and normal friend Anna) to rescue her friend Ben from the terrorist organization Mountain of Ash that killed her mother and brainwashed her cousin Emma into joining them. Book 3 finds Olivia in the Ashers’ clutches, far from home, her powers suppressed, and only alive because the head terrorist wants her blood to make an enhancement serum.
The suspense never lets up in this volume. Olivia endures torture in the form of altered memories as the villain seeks to power up her blood. Escape attempts are foiled as Olivia and her friends gradually learn what Mountain of Ash has in mind for the inferior normals of the world, and for the supernormals who seek to protect them. It’s a nice touch that Olivia agrees with Mountain of Ash on one point: supernormals should be able to use their powers openly. She does not agree with their cruel, destructive methods and is hurt when friends seem to go over to the dark side. Although the final battle is a pulse-pounding shocker with terrible losses, the book pulls off a poignant but hopeful ending.
If you don’t find it on the shelves of your favorite independent bookstore, ask them to order it for you, or purchase online here:
Get it at Barnes & Noble HERE. They support indie authors and have hosted Not a Pipe Publishing’s signings at multiple locations.
Get it on Amazon HERE.
Get it at Powell’s HERE.
I was predisposed to like this story of a reluctant teen superhero in the Pacific Northwest; it’s my sub-sub-genre, too. McLennan delivers the goods with a relatable young protagonist in a recognizable real-life setting. Dormant provides a nice twist on the origin story, too: rather than being surprised by the sudden advent of powers, Olivia has known about them her whole life and doesn’t want them.
Who wouldn’t want superpowers? But 14-year-old Olivia has good reason. Descended from a long line of “supernormals,” as a child she witnessed her mother’s death in action and blames herself. She rejected her powers and that side of her family, suppressing abilities that should have manifested when she was 13. When a bank robbery compels her to use her abilities, Olivia is drawn back to the “family business” and begins training with her cousins to learn to control her powers and help protect the city of Portland from supernormal bad guys and monsters. (I really loved that her superteam is a group of cousins, a special kind of friend-relative that everyone should have a bunch of to grow up with.) When more than one local landmark is violently destroyed in her presence, Olivia and her family begin to wonder if she’s turning into a villain herself, unconsciously using powers when upset or angry. Meanwhile, she’s trying to keep up her old normal life of school, friends, and boyfriend while avoiding a mean girl who has it in for her; but the universe—and her aunt and uncles—have other ideas. Plenty of action–and humor–keep this from devolving into an angsty-teen emo-fest.
For someone who spends most of the book rejecting or suppressing her powers, Olivia takes great delight in using them. She knows deep down that this is who she is and what she does. I especially liked those scenes, which showed she was still capable of joy. Although she had good reason for turning away from that identity, embracing it seems like her one hope for healing from her early trauma. By the end of Book 1, she has endured more than one tragedy, but has excellent motivation for training and using her abilities. Book 2, Root, comes out in June. Read Book 1 now so you’re ready.