Our Canadian counterparts recently organized the “So, You Want to be Human?” blog tour for three of our fave 2016 sci-fi novels: Erin Bow’s The Swan Riders (Now available in stores everywhere), Simon Curtis’s Boy Robot (On sale next week, 10/25, and you can read an extended excerpt right now), and S.J. Kincaid’s The Diabolic (On sale November 1!). They’re vastly different reads but they share a common thread in that they each feature protagonists that are almost-but-not-quite-human so fittingly, they dedicated the blog tour to what it means to be human!
The blog tour included three book blog stops where each talked about what it means to be human and championed one of the three books: Lost in a Great Book chose The Swan Riders which she called her “favourite book of the year,” Brains, Books, & Brawn, though also a huge fan of The Swan Riders, chose The Diabolic and was delighted that it lived up to all the hype, and Thoughts and Afterthoughts chose Boy Robot which he liked and would recommend, he was just frustrated at the cliffhanger ending and having to wait until the sequel (which was just announced last week) for answers!
At the conclusion of the blog tour, all three authors participated in a Twitter chat. If you missed it, follow along at
One of the best parts of the blog tour (IMHO) though was that each of three authors reviewed each other’s book! Here’s a snippet of each:
Author Simon Curtis on The Swan Riders:
Throughout the course of the books, Erin plays with the concept of humanity in subtle, brilliant ways. Reading The Swan Riders, you don’t even realize how much of Greta’s former humanity has been sacrificed until other characters begin to react to just how stark the contrast is between the new and old versions of her. A girl who was once held hostage by the mistakes of humanity, who faced the horrors of torture and death as penance for mankind’s inability to find peace, has now been forced to sacrifice herself, her love, and her very humanity in order to survive. Beyond the nightmare of coming to terms with such a sacrifice, Greta must also grapple with Talis’s approach to peace—that is, blow cities up until the humans stop fighting. Through Talis, Erin forces Greta, and the reader, to deeply consider the weight of what is necessary vs. the emotional instinct of what is right. Through Talis’s army/cult of Swan Riders, who willingly offer themselves as human vessels for Talis’s consciousness (at the expense of their own mentality), Erin forces us to wonder if consciousness itself a form of humanity? Or is it not enough to be merely conscious? Must empathy and compassion exist for a being to truly be considered human? Read more >>
Author Erin Bow on The Diabolic:
My favourite things about this book are the world building — I’m a sucker for a big, immersive world — and for its eat-it-up-like popcorn twisty political plot. But if it has a central strength, it’s that old Philip K. Dick trick: it takes big questions like nature vs. nurture, the existence or nonexistence of freewill, and the unknowable spark that defines us as human or inhuman, and makes them literal in the plot. For instance: is Nemesis unemotional and predatory by nature, or was she carefully trained to be that way? Even if she was trained, does it matter, if the training can’t be broken? There’s no medium like science fiction for asking these questions. We can explore the boundary of what it means to be human by telling the stories of people who must cross it. Read more >>
Author S. J. Kincaid on Boy Robot:
I think the scope of this story is truly admirable, and presented in a way that makes it stand out from a lot of YA books because it’s not confined to one point of view, or even just a few, though Isaak is the center and heart of the story… The narrative challenges the reader. It very interestingly reaches into the minds of a wide array of characters, giving the world a much broader scope than it otherwise would have had. It’s a great and ambitious narrative choice. It’s definitely a book that entertains and surprises more than a few times. Read more >>