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  • Writer's pictureAnders Åslund

Source Code, part two

Last post I named some of the influences and inspirations for my writing. I promised, for this post, that I would drop some comps–that is, comparable titles. I almost regret this promise, as I still think it's a terrifying proposition to suggest that I, a mere mortal, can be compared in any way to any of the creators of the following works.

I have to remind myself, once more, that they're comparable in the sense that The Challenger is kinda sorta reminiscent of the following works–moods, story lines, pacing, and characters.

Why is this important? Well, people are lazy. Including readers, apparently, which is sort of ironic when you think about it. Every self-publishing guru out there tells us indie first-timers that we have very little time to persuade someone to buy our books, that we basically have to spoon-feed potential buyers their subjective opinions back to them. And then they buy a book of 400 pages and read that.

How come we are so cavalier about choosing our books? We wouldn't go into a car dealer's and buy a car based solely on what the salesman thinks the car reminds him of. And that's just buying a car. I mean, books are way, way more important than cars.

Anyway, enough stalling.

Liu, Chambers, Card

The Warcross series, by Marie Liu. I find it comparable because it contains elements of both a larger mystery inside a secluded world that also, like The Challenger, includes sports. Warcross is on the romantic side, whereas The Challenger focuses on the mystery a bit more, but I think people who read Warcross and found it entertaining will also enjoy my book.

Cover of Marie Liu's Warcross
Marie Liu's Warcross - fun & fast

The Wayfarer series, by Becky Chambers. Now, this is going out on a limb. Chamber's books are contemplative sci-fi, which is sort of what I'm going for as well, albeit with a bit more action and adventure. Her audience, however, is older and more mature, I think, and her themes differ from mine. But comps are all about mindset, feeling, pacing, and general relatability. I dearly hope someone who's read both will understand what I mean.

Cover of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game paperback
Classic: Ender's Game

A classic that could be included in this list is Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. There's an element of trial and tribulation in The Challenger that I think is reminiscent of this book, in that it also depicts young people spearheading a great endeavor that might or might not be what they think it is.

Weir, Collins, Dashner, Roth

Another novel that has elements of new adult, trials and tribulations, and brainy mystery is Andy "The Martian" Weir's underrated Artemis. My main character, Imogen, might be a bit less gung-ho and abrasive, but she's plucky, smart, and unstoppable, just like Jazz of Artemis.

Since the story is young/new adult, there are certainly elements of several other big titles–a wee bit of The Hunger Games, perhaps, a dash of The Maze Runner, and a sprinkle of Divergent–but it would be wrong to make too much of it. It's kids being put through the wringer, basically.

Movies as comps

I've also considered other media, and I've had some suggested to me, which was very flattering. The movie Passengers, seeing as The Challenger is set aboard a gigantic colony ship where things go wrong. (I am a bit uncomfortable with it as a comp, though, because I thought it was a sloppily written movie that could have been so much more.) I had Wall-E suggested to me,

The robot Wall-E on a trash heap, staring longingly into space
How can you not melt for this guy?

which I thought was incredibly flattering, considering it's one of my favorite animated films. I think it's to do with the third act of that story being about people waking up from a repetitive torpor and face a difficult choice brought on by outside forces: do or die. Even Alien was brought up, which was surprising, but when I think about it–why not? There are instances of body horror-esque reflections and ideas, if not the actual thing, and at one point, I think my main character almost runs into Captain Dallas as he's crawling around the guts of the Nostromo...

Xenomorph from the movie Alien peeking through shower curtains in a friendly sort of way

The book I'd like to read

I read somewhere that getting 10-15 comps is reasonable, and well... I'm not quite there yet. Partly because the concept is new to me, but partly because I just haven't read enough in my genre. I mean, I've read a lot of science fiction, but not the kind I've got it in my head to write. I'm hoping to gather more comps as time goes by and I catch up on more of the same genre and with similar target groups. For now, let me say that I've written a book that I myself would love to pick up and read, and I'm sure that there are others out there who will enjoy it too.

That's it, That's the scariest blog post I will ever write. Glad that's over with.

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