On March 20, Angry Mob Games (not to be confused with Angry Robot Books; I seem to attract a lot of angry employers) published the announcement trailer for their new roguelite action platformer, Trinity Fusion:


(Read the full post on Substack – or just bask in the beautiful trailer!)

Autistic Book Party, Episode 77: Troubleshooting

Cover of the book Troubleshooting by Selene dePackh. The cover has an abstract, monochrome design with splashes of red. It also says "Book One: Glitch in the System."

Today’s Book: “Troubleshooting” by Selene dePackh

The Plot: In a viciously ableist, fascist, near-future North America, a troubled autistic teenager named Scope Archer must escape a corrupt backcountry “development center” called Thunderbird Mountain before finding her way in the world.

Autistic Character(s): Scope, plus the author.

I picked this book up, uneasily intrigued by the premise, but unsure exactly what to expect. The back cover copy makes it sound like autistic Stalag fiction, complete with puzzle piece tattoos. The actual book itself isn’t quite that, but it’s a brutal, challenging, rather uneven book that I’m still not sure what to do with, which is why I took so long to get to writing the review.

Thunderbird Mountain is awful and dehumanizing in ways that will be familiar to anyone who’s read about or experienced institutionalization. It is also corrupt, with guards who will ask for sexual favors in exchange for small comforts, and thuggish “trusties” who might not bother to ask. Scope, who is underage but has already done sex work, navigates this environment more cannily than most; but it’s a hellish environment no matter how it’s navigated. Fortunately, Scope escapes the camp less than a quarter of the way through the book, but she must then try to navigate an external world which in some ways is no less hostile.

DePackh writes Scope’s point of view with a sort of vicious matter-of-factness, a point-blank refusal to  sugar-coat any aspect of what this life is like, married to an equally strong insistence on her own agency. The book is at its best when it uses this voice and this tone to call out aspects of the ableism in Scope’s life which are barely exaggerated versions of the ableism of the real world – or maybe, even more uncomfortably, not exaggerated at all.

Take this paragraph, for instance:

I kept hearing how autistics didn’t understand sexual boundaries. I decided to make it work for me. It wasn’t a new concept. I couldn’t exist around humans without being slathered in it. Some autistics like my cousin Archer identify as asexual, but plenty of us play the hands we’re dealt.

Like. Ouch. I’ve never been in a situation like Scope’s (thank goodness – although, based on dePackh’s bio, the sex work in the book is #ownvoices) but when I read this quote I think about some of my own history of toxic relationships with people who thought that the autism made me easy to play, and I wince a little in recognition.

Back when I reviewed Mirror Project I promised myself that I would let myself DNF books if I needed to and still write a review, if I wanted, of the parts that I’d read. I have to admit that’s what happened with “Troubleshooting.” It’s not because of the dark content, exactly. (I still firmly believe that marginalized authors can, perhaps should, write exactly as much dark content as they want to.) But when the content of a book starts to get difficult enough to slow me down, I have to be sufficiently motivated to keep going. The bar for how compelling and how empathetic the book needs to be, in order to motivate me that way, gets higher. Not because of some objective rule about what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do in dark books, but just because of how my own endurance levels work as a reader.

“Troubleshooting” starts to fall down for me on these grounds in the middle sections. After Scope escapes from the camp, the book starts to meander and to feel a little unfocused as Scope tries various strategies for surviving in the outside world, feels unsatisfied by them, and starts drifting back into exploitative sexual situations. I was still rooting for Scope in a sense, and it’s not like this kind of drifting unhappiness is unrealistic for someone in her situation; but I was no longer quite sure what I was rooting for her to do, or even what she wanted to do in the first place, and her moments of anguish started to feel like they weren’t supported as closely or as vividly by what we saw on the page. I eventually gave up and stopped reading around the one-third mark.

Anyway, I think I have readers who might like this book despite its unevenness (as well as readers who would run for the hills, or perhaps already started running at the first few paragraphs of this review.) When it hits, it hits hard. Even when it misses, it is absolutely unflinching. I’ve never seen another book quite like it.

The Verdict: YMMV, but I didn’t like it

For a list of past/future/possible Autistic Book Party books, click here.

Autistic Book Party, Episode 76: Dragon Pearl

Cover of the book "Rick Riordan presents: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee." A young girl in a space uniform stands dramatically in front of a red background, with a ghostly fox figure in the sky behind her.

Today’s Book: “Dragon Pearl” by Yoon Ha Lee

The Plot: Min, a thirteen-year-old fox shifter in a space opera universe based on Korean mythology, leaves home to try to track down her brother, who has disappeared in search of an artifact called the Dragon Pearl that can remake whole worlds.

Autistic Character(s): The author!

I’m a huge fan of Lee’s work, but I waited longer to pick up his middle grade series because middle grade hasn’t historically been my thing. This year, for various reasons, it’s a genre I’ve been getting more genuinely into, and “Dragon Pearl” is a great example of why, because it’s a delight from start to end.

Min is adorable – a character who cares a lot and works hard, but who also has the impulsive sense of mischief common to all foxes, and a range of abilities at shapeshifting and mind control that get her into very creative predicaments as well as back out of them again. I easily rooted for her throughout the story and was intrigued by the colorful secondary characters she befriends and the mystery that she begins to unravel.

There really isn’t a lot to say about autism here (although, as often happens in Lee’s work, there is some interesting subtext about gender, with Min spending a good portion of the book disguised as a male cadet). But I’m very glad I read it, and I’ll be heading as soon as I can to the sequel, “Tiger Honor.”

The Verdict: Recommended-2

For a list of past/future/possible Autistic Book Party books, click here.

Lazy Deaths

(Content Note: This is a Disability Day of Mourning post, so there will be some mentions of filicide.)

As the Disability Day of Mourning nears, I’m thinking about who lives and who dies in the stories we tell.

I’m thinking about a movie I watched with my family as a tween. My brain is telling me it was South Pacific, but I just looked up the plot and confused myself, so I’m not going to say it was definitely that movie. It was an old movie in a jaunty wartime setting, without showing much actual war, and near the end, a character who had gotten into a fairly complicated personal situation ended up dying unexpectedly for war reasons before he could sort any of it out. (The character was an able-bodied, straight, white man. I’m not talking about disability yet.) I was weirded out; it seemed like an unsatisfying ending. I asked my mom why he’d died.

“Well,” she said, “at that point, he wasn’t going to have a happy ending anyway.”

(Read the full post on Substack)


As promised, here is a second piece of autofanfiction as a thank-you to my readers! This story may or may not be canon, but either way, it has a Sispirinithas.

NOTE: This story contains ENDING SPOILERS for THE INFINITE. If you’d rather not read the spoilers but would like some exciting book-launch-related news, you can jump to the end of the post. There’ll be a big graphic; you can’t miss it.

(Read the full post on Substack)

THE INFINITE is out today!!!

Cover of the book "The Infinite" by Ada Hoffmann. The cover art shows a small human figure reaching out to make contact with a very large, tentacled, flying creature with glowing eyes.

Time is running out for the planet Jai. The artificially intelligent Gods who rule the galaxy have withdrawn their protection from the chaos-ravaged world, just as their most ancient enemy closes in. For Yasira Shien, who has devoted herself to the fragile planet’s nascent rebellion, it’s time to do or die – and the odds are overwhelming…

The thrilling conclusion to the neurodivergent, queer, cosmic-horror-flavored space opera of the Outside trilogy is finally here!

You can get it direct from the publisher or see other purchase options (including audio format).

Here’s what one reviewer has to say about THE INFINITE:

Hoffman doesn’t deliver on all her promises – she goes light-years BEYOND them, gives us so much more than I ever expected, more than my wildest dreams for this series; tying together every heart-pounding theme that’s been woven through these books with even more fantastic gloriousness…

The kind of epic you feel reverberating through your bones; that makes you want to sing and scream because you just can’t CONTAIN it all!



There’s been a delay with both the official launch events (virtual and in-person) but details will be announced soon! Until then, the book itself is finally here for you to enjoy.

THE INFINITE Advent Calendar, Week 7: Playlist

I love making playlists and I make a point of creating one for every book I write. My book playlists aren’t music I listen to while actually writing – I prefer silence for that – but they’re songs I listen to at quiet moments in the day, like on the bus or while doing housework. They make me think of my book and smile, and maybe even get inspired a little about what should happen.

I’ve been working on keeping my playlists cohesive in terms of genre and feel. It’s not always an easy task, since I listen to everything from bouncy pop music to metal to classical and my books tend to involve a lot of different feelings. But I’m getting better at it, and THE INFINITE’s playlist turned out very consistent with itself. Get ready to raise your horns and bang your head as we finish off this trilogy with a FITE.

Listen on Spotify

Listen on YouTube

Below, I’m going to share a little bit about why I picked each song and what part of the book it represents to me – keeping things as spoiler-light as I can!

(Read the full post on Substack)