Defying Doomsday Read-Along: The Starting Line

Posted by on Jan 5, 2017 in Read-Along | 13 comments

Defying Doomsday Read-Along: The Starting Line


Today we’re kicking off the Defying Doomsday Read-Along. I’m so excited to see where this goes! You can join at any point through the read-along, so don’t be shy. I’m hoping we’ll have some fun discussions in the comment threads as we jump into this awesome set of stories. You can also tweet about the read-along using the hashtag, #readDefyingDoomsday.

The discussions questions for the first four stories will be posted next Thursday. Today I’ve got some preliminary questions to get us going. Feel free to answer the questions in the comments here, or, if you prefer, answer the questions on your own blog and leave a link in the comments. Either way works great!

But Where Do I Find It?

If you’re looking to nab your copy of Defying Doomsday, there are lots of options, including Amazon. You can also head over to the publisher’s release post for a full list of links.

The Schedule

  • Thursday, January 5 – Start Reading!
  • Thursday, January 12 – Discussion Part 1: Stories 1-4
  • Thursday, January 19 – Discussion Part 2: Stories 5-8
  • Thursday, January 16 – Surviving the Apocalypse: Quizzes and Fun at the Halfway Point!
  • Thursday,February 2 -Discussion Part 3: Stories 9-12
  • Thursday, February 9 -Discussion Part 4: Stories 13-15
  • Thursday, February 16 – Wrap Up and Review Link Up

The Questions

  1. Why did you decide to join the read-along?
  2. Is this your first time reading apocalyptic fiction? Or is this a genre you’ve enjoyed before?
  3. Have you read any other books featuring disabled protagonists that you’d recommend?
  4. If you were to write a short story about surviving the apocalypse, what kind of apocalypse would you choose? (It can be as realistic or fantastic as you like!)
  5. If you were facing an apocalypse, what one fiction book would you stick in your pack before fleeing whatever’s about to take out your neighborhood? (No survival guides–let’s be real, you don’t even have one your shelves right now….)

Intisar’s Answers

  1. I decided to join because it would be really bad manners to run a read-along and not join. (JK!) I’ve read a few books with disabled protagonists, but Defying Doomsday blew me out of the water with the sheer breadth of experiences, realities, and fictions covered. I really wanted to share it with more people, so when I decided to run a blog post series on Disability in Fiction, this book was the obvious choice to me for a read-along.
  2. I actually don’t read much in the way of surviving-the-apocalypse stories. I’m much more of a high fantasy or fairy tale type person, but I went through a serious SF phase as a teen and I still very much appreciate well written books where the magic is technology–or just where the characters are real and the story won’t let me go.
  3. It’s rather embarrassing to admit that I’m drawing a blank right now. I’ve read a number of books I wouldn’t recommend per se–so, for example, while I enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, I found out pretty quickly that it did a terrible job of representing individuals with autism. The list of woulds seems far sparser, especially since I can’t count books with secondary characters, though I must say I enjoyed Bleeding Violet for both its weird horror-like fantasy vibe and the depiction of the heroine’s bipolar disorder.
    **Edited to add: I forgot about our heroine’s love interest in the Nyssa Glass series by H. L. Burke. There’s some serious backstory regarding just what his father was willing to do to “fix” him (it’s messed up!), but Ellis himself is a great character.
  4. It feels like everything’s been done, so I guess for me the question is, what could I make mine? Also, I’m rather depressed about climate change and the spread of Zika and twenty other things, so I’m going fantastical with this one. As such: A unicorn apocalypse brought about by corporate investments in shady genetics experiments. Oh, and a horde of infected mosquitos. Um, yeah, reality doth interfere.
  5. Since I can’t take my Kindle (who made these rules? That sucks!), and I don’t want to haul around a massive tome, I’d limit myself to Pride and Prejudice. This is the book I read every summer for years on end, and with every re-read I found something else to laugh at or enjoy. Also, that world is long gone, so escaping to it wouldn’t involve mourning it as well.

Happy Reading, Everyone!

  • Let’s try that again…

    • 1. I joined because I won a copy. ????

      2. I am not sure what delineates apocalyptic from dystopic, but I can say I have read a fair share of Dystopian.

      3.Yes, the first one that comes to mind is Napoleon Xylophone and its sequel XYZ. It is Fantasy YA and the MC is wheelchair bound. There is also Summer On the Short Bus (camp for otherly-abled teens), Of Breakable Things (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), and The Architect Of Song (deafness).

      4. I have an idea for a short story called The Slip, where time starts slipping backwards for short periods of time. If you happen to be standing where an ocean once was, or a ravine, or busy street you will suffer the physical consequences. Hopefully time slips back before something awful happens.

      5. I have a bind-up of the Wrinkle In Time, Time quartet. Cheating a little, I know, five in one, but I am resourceful. Ha ha.

      • LOL – yay! So glad you joined!

        I think the difference between dystopian and apocalyptic is just that the apocalypse is actively happening in the latter. Dystopian could be any future setting where life sucks, but there doesn’t *have* to have been an apocalypse (though there often is!).

        And cool! I will definitely have to check out those books. I have heard great things about the Architect of Song and it’s been on my TBR. Looks like I’ll need to move it up!

        The Slip sounds like a bit of a hair-raising situation. Please just make sure I don’t get trampled by buffalo, given where I live. 😉 Would love to read that if you ever do write it!

        The Wrinkly in Time quartet is awesome. And resourcefulness will take you far in the apocalypse! 😉

  • Bleeding Violet sounds like my thing. I am going to check it out. Next time I will do a blog post with the questions. ????

  • Miti von Weissenberg

    1. I decided to join the read along because I love apocalyptic fiction! I am also not a huge reader of short stories – no particular reason. I was raised on “Lord of the Rings” (Mother read that to us sisters when I was 6, so I was brain washed early…) and am a professional historian, so I suppose I somehow assume that anything worth reading must be big enough to use as a door stop? But I have recently started reading short stories and enjoyed them (Bone Knife, anyone?), so I thought, why not?

    2. I am a fan. I have swallowed, hook, sink and line, and am definitively eyeing the rod and fishing boat. Zombies, diseases, nuclear disaster, war… This interest grows out of my interest in post-apocalyptic, especially dystopian, fiction.

    3. Mother read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to us when I was little, and I honestly somehow missed Tiny Tim being on crutches as being disabled until I saw an improv theater production of it (proud moment: the audience was solicited for improv inspiration and so the Ghost of Christmas Past got to be MY Catherine the Great suggestion!). Somehow as a child I did not connect the crutches to being disabled. Maybe because I had crutches, but it did not really hinder me at all (just an Achilles’ heel injury – partly because I did not use the properly I still do stretches 30+ years later) I did not connect the dots… More aware reading comes from some of the Dragonlance books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman where one in a set of twins (Raistlin Majere) is chronically ill due to his magic. I am not sure I would recommend the books per se… I loved them at the time, and if you are into D&D style fantasy, you already know them. I had such a crush on Raistlin, although he was kind of a bastard. It’s ok, I went on to marry a total sweetheart. He cooks to boot.

    4. Close to home… I think, right now, given what is going on in my home country, I would write about a genocide gone wrong. Instead of succesfully eradicating a disliked linguistic/ethnic minority, a populist right wing government would accidentally wipe out, like, the vast majority of people because in limiting broad health care in one group’s language, they prevent experts in something (viruses?) from doing their job. Obviously the protagonists would be members of the minority, AND they would save civilization.

    5. Facing the apocalypse? Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods to remind me of how ideas gain power from believers AND to make me laugh? Lord of the Rings because it is my first literary love (Legolas was my first love)? My encyclopedia of Catholic Saints because it is 12 volumes with an appendix and index and many of the saints ARE fictional?

    • Oh that is so neat–I had no idea you were a fan of apocalyptic fiction! So glad you joined in! 🙂

      You know, it’s funny the books you forget you’ve read. I remember Raistlin Majere very well now that you mention him. He was not the most lovable character (ha!) but he was very memorable and probably one of the first characters that I read with a chronic illness. Now that you mention Zombies, though, I’m remembering a zombie story in which the main character had Asperger’s Syndrome… I don’t know how accurate her portrayal was, but it was an intriguing story. I believe it was called Zoe, Undead.

      What a mess the world is, eh? When I start thinking about reality-based apocalypse stories, it’s like I almost don’t have to make anything up. I can pretty much imagine an actual scenario for your story playing out, and that upsets me so much. So I’m just going to hold on to the 12 volumes of Catholic Saints, fictional ones included. (How is that even possible? So awesome!)

  • MoH

    1. I just read Defying Doomsday about a month ago. I was totally blown away by it, too, so I actually squealed when I saw you were doing a read-along, Intisar. I love this anthology so much. Thank you!

    2. I’ve read some, but apocalyptic fiction isn’t usually among my first choices. On the other hand, an anthology of great stories about disabled people surviving the apocalypse is definitely something I need right now.

    3. I’m working my way through the DisabilityInKidLit Honor Roll as part of my post-election self-care plan. 🙂 I thought Coe Booth’s Kinda Like Brothers, Corinne Duyvis’s On the Edge of Gone, and Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy were completely amazing. Some other books with disabled main characters that I love are Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Tanwi Nandini Islam’s Bright Lines, and Ana Castillo’s Peel My Love Like an Onion. TLWtaSAP and Bright Lines are from multiple perspectives, but the disabled characters have main roles within that framework, and they’re awesome. 🙂

    4. I think it would have to be a post-nuclear apocalypse. I’m still haunted by an experimental production I saw when I was around eight that ended with Nixon swinging above a mushroom cloud, gleefully cackling, “I’m all alone.” (Yeah, I don’t know what my parents were thinking, either. ¯_(?)_/¯) Sort of combining Miti’s idea with one of the stories in Defying Doomsday, I’d love to focus on a group of characters who were institutionalized before the apocalypse who use the skills they developed surviving institutionalization to save what’s left of the world.

    5. Oh, this is a hard one! Since I’d probably be grieving, I think I’d take Kazumi Yamoto’s The Spring Tone. The way she writes about the complexities of loss and its aftermath is so gentle and soothing. It’s a great comfort read.

    • Oh yay! So excited to have another fan on board! 😉 This anthology was definitely one of my best reads of last year, so I’m really excited to be doing the read-along.

      I was just looking at the Disability In Kit Lit Honor Roll the other night! And I have The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet on my Kindle already, so I guess I need to read it. I will definitely have to check out the others you mentioned.

      And I am dying at the image of Nixon cackling over a mushroom cloud. Those were some serious special effects back then! And certainly nightmare worthy for the unlucky child who happened to see it… That said, your idea for a story sound fascinating! I can imagine it panning out really, really well, actually.

      I haven’t yet The Spring Tone as yet–looks like another one for my TBR!

      • MoH

        Thank you so much for your kind words and warm welcome!

        I forgot to mention I went through a similar process to yours with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and I’m really intrigued by your descriptions of Bleeding Violet and the Nyssa Glass series. I’ve added them both to my TBR list. 🙂

        I hope you enjoy The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as much as I did. It’s one of those books that makes you feel better about humanity, but in a totally genuine, non-soppy way.

        And I am dying at the image of Nixon cackling over a mushroom cloud. Those were some serious special effects back then!

        I know, right? 😉

        • What a bummer about The Curious Incident right? I mean, if the guy had done his research, he clearly knows how to write well–it could have been fantastic. And yay! I’d love to hear what you think of Bleeding Violet (TW for violence, I must say) and Nyssa if you get to them.

  • 1. I joined because I think it’s such an important topic. Disabled people are too often all but invisible in our society. I’m a professional guardian to three developmentally disabled adult young women. I’ve seen people pretend they aren’t there or act like they have no feelings and are incapable of knowing when they are disrespected. Disreapect of the disabled is appealing to me. Personally, I’ve got several autoimmune diseases and I have some days where I really struggle with pain.

    2. I’ve read a lot of dystopian fiction and some pure apocalyptic/Post-apocalyptic fiction. I enjoy some (Hunger Games, Divergent, Newsflesh series, Kate Daniel series, etc.)

    3. Well, Newsflesh’s protagonist, Georgia Mason, has a sequestered viral infection that makes her unbearably light sensitive. It leaves her vulnerable on a number of occasions in the books. And then there’s this little short story I recall called The Bone Knife…

    4. My apocalypse (I actually had a good start on a novel but set it aside when my mom became ill…) is a climate ravaged world beset with tropical diseases that have worked their way into the temperate zones of the world, with arid, drought ridden areas, dramatic sea level rise, groundwater-related subsidence, etc.

    5. I actually have FIVE survival guides. I’m not kidding! They’re research if you’re interested in Post-apocalypse survival! My fiction choice would be The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Pride and Prejudice would be my second book.

    • Woohoo! If there’s ever an apocalypse, I’m borrowing survival guides from YOU! 😀 Actually, yes, I can totally see them being fantastic research material for post-apocalypse survival. Your novel-concept sounds fantastic (if super depressing and quite possible–ha!). I hope you’ll have a chance to pick it up again when the time is right for you. I’ve had to set my writing aside for years at a time, but I find that I always end up coming back to it.

      Your work sounds amazing. And yes! One of the reasons I wanted to run this series is because of how disabled individuals are marginalized and ignored by mainstream society, and how vital the role of reading and the arts can be in changing that. What I wouldn’t give for a more compassionate world! I am so glad that you’ve joined, and hope you enjoy the read. I’m so excited for Thursday’s first set of discussion questions! (Now I just have to figure them out–eek!)

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