Monday, June 11, 2018

"Free Chocolate"

Amber Royer teaches enrichment and continuing education creative writing classes for teens and adults. She spent five years as a youth librarian, where she organized teen writers’ groups and teen writing contests. In addition to two cookbooks co-authored with her husband, Royer has published a number of articles on gardening, crafting and cooking for print and on-line publications.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her debut science fiction novel, Free Chocolate, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“.....if your planet registers with the Galactic Court. You can set laws to regulate your borders, and entering illegally becomes itself a punishable crime, according to the laws you set on your soil. That process usually takes years, but I could expedite it for you, if I felt incentivized.” She rubs the tentacle ends together in pairs. Because the gesture for and-this-is-the-point-where-you-give-me-a-bribe really is universal.

“But I just told you, Earth money is worthless.”

All the tentacles shake no again. “There are already some parts of the galaxy where Snickers Bars are being used as currency. I’m not opposed to dealing in that medium.”

“Why?” The vlogger sounds incredulous. “Why would candy bars be worth more than cash?”

“Because, my dear, the Krom missed chocolate.”

The vlogger exits the Embassy, grumbling, making empty threats. Pero, she was still missing the point. That holo changed everything.

Threats. Frank hadn’t actually threatened Brill, but he may well have lived most of his life with that same underlying frustrangeration. And now he’s alone with a Krom. My Krom. And I can’t explain to Mamá why I’m so worried. So when she asks again, I lie and say, “De nada.”

When we’re ready to go across campus to the banquet hall, Chestla takes us personally down the elevator. When she’s gotten out and far enough away, I make my way from the elevator car. I blink, as my brain adjusts to what I’m seeing. Right in the middle of the lobby, there’s the Larkssian equivalent of a golf cart, which has been converted into a closed vehicle with the use of panels of lavender fabric that looks suspiciously like bed sheets.

Chestla pulls back one of the panels. “Get in.”

I look at Mamá. She shrugs, then steps forward. “Gracias, Chestla.”
This page actually does say a lot about the book and the worldbuilding. You get to see a key part of the conflict: Bo’s boyfriend is a Krom – who just happen to be the aliens who took samples of Earth commodities during Earth’s first First Contact, duplicated said commodities and sold them off over half the galaxy. For the most part, Earth’s still mad about that.

We’ve caught Bo mid-flashback, recounting the details of a holo she watched about the time just after that First Contact (which happened before she was born). The dialogue at the beginning actually starts on the previous page, with a human vlogger, who’s been more or less touring the galaxy now that alien life has been discovered, having just found out that, “Her planet’s been mugged,” by the Krom. She’s gone to the nearest Galactic Embassy to try to redress the situation.

By this point, Bo has reason to believe that her mother’s boyfriend, Frank, may not be who he says he is. Brill has reluctantly left with Frank . . . and the history between Krom and Earth plays into the reasons she’s afraid Brill might not be coming back. But the apartment she’s in is bugged (media and holos and electronic surveillance play a big part in this book), which has Bo freaked out further. She’s at odds with her home planet, and is just starting to figure out in these chapters how much.

This page also gives Chestla, Bo’s quirky RA, who wound up on the same backwater planet as Bo after she failed to become a proper guardian companion to royalty on her home planet (where her people are the alpha predators), a chance to show off her protective nature, which suits her role throughout the book.
Visit Amber Royer's website.

Writers Read: Amber Royer.

--Marshal Zeringue