Pay Me, Bug! by Christopher Wright (40:00)

IOD-PayMeBugToday’s book has been a test of the emergency awesome detection system. And I do declare it works just fine!

What I gleaned from the story: If you miss Firefly, this is the kind of book that’s gonna ease your goram aches and lamentations, for a spell.

Find the book on Amazon.

Note: It’s been a while now since a book took me to the wall for the full 40:00. So I wanted to conduct a test to be sure I hadn’t become a twisted up, spiteful old prune, and when I saw this book sitting in my submission queue, I knew I’d found a way to test it. See, the author didn’t realize that I’d already reviewed his book – back before I started the IOD report. I’d loved it then, but I hadn’t actually immersion tested it. So today I pulled it out and layed down the challenge. Would it stand up? Have I become jaded? Impossible to please? Turns out, no, I haven’t. And instead of WTFs today, I’ll be sharing my three Woohoos.

Woohoo #1: Banter.

Analysis: I find it rare for indie dialogue to give me a strong sense of real. When people have known each other for a long time, it shows. It leaks out in the way they talk to each other. It shines forth from the private jokes and the complex ebbs and flows between them. There are hard-asses and wise-crackers, sensitive blokes and pains-in-the-ass. It’s natural. It’s inevitable. It’s human. And more importantly, in this book, it starts on page one and stays there for the duration. I’m not talking about over-the-top repartee. I’m talking about dialogue that sounds like its being spoken among people who really do know each other. It paints the portrait of a team at work, and moves the story along at the same time. You can’t ask for more.

Woohoo #2: Pre-existence.

Analysis: When the events of a story are joined in mid-play, it gives a sense that the people and situations we’re witnessing have an existence that precedes our arrival. They feel more real. This can be difficult to pull off without requiring interruptive flash-backs or tedious exposition dumps. But when done effectively, it provides a high-speed short-cut to immersion. Pay Me, Bug! pulls it off beautifully. I was immersed on page one and was startled to look up later and find myself already at 42 minutes. I cannot imagine a more compelling measure of immersion than that.

Woohoo #3: Story.

Analysis: Too many indie authors are so preoccupied with character arcs, dramatic themes, editing, structuring, etc., that they forget an important ingredient: They forget to tell a story. People have experiences every day where they triumph over peril and conflict, but few of those dramas are worthy of being sung in the halls or told around the camp fire. By my lights, a story has to be more than merely surviving hardships and learning a lesson. It has to have heart. It has to be bigger than real. It has to be worth the time I spend reading it. And today that happened. I didn’t just read for 40 minute. I was entertained.

Conclusion: As I mentioned at the start, today’s read was an experiment, and I’m pleased to conclude that my immersion senses still seem to be functioning. And I am also tickled to award Pay Me, Bug! the first ever perfect score. Forty minutes and zero WTFs.

Addendum: And because Pay Me, Bug! did more than just survive the first 40 minutes and was in fact entertaining and immersing from beginning to end, it was chosen as one of the 8 books to represent ImmerseOrDie in the first IOD StoryBundle collection.

The Face-Stealer, by Robert Scott-Norton (5:28)
Flummox or Bust, by Kevin Bowersox (16:17)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.