Knight in Paper Armor: The Reviews Are In!

Knight in Paper Armor has now been out for over two months (!) and the response has truly blown me away. While I’ve written multiple books, this one has — by far — earned a response like no other.

Here are some of the reviews that have popped up online:

This book hits hard.

Jeanette Andromeda, Horror Made

As bleak as it seemed at times, there was an unyielding undercurrent of hope and light, selflessness and voices that would not be silenced. It brought not only a great balance to the story, but also a great reminder to me as a reader. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the seemingly endless onslaught of negativity, the pain and the suffering, sometimes you forget how much beauty and hope there is amidst it and how powerful those things can truly be.

Tricia, Bookworm Coalition

“Scary, inspiring, and ultimately life-affirming.”

– Dr. Olga Núñez Miret

Knight in Paper Armor is [Conley’s] latest novel and, in my opinion, is not only the most ambitious but also the maturest of his work to date.”

Steve Johnson, Book to the Future

“The story is part sci-fi, part dystopian, part fantasy, and it crackles with the ominous and intense undertone often found in dystopian literature like 1984 or Animal Farm or Brave New World.”

J.R. Alcyone, author of Five Fathoms Beneath

“Conley’s writing style is engaging, smart, and easy. His characters are multi-dimensional and you get a good sense of them having backstories even if you don’t get to delve into many. His compassionate cheering for the underdog is absolute and palpable throughout the story, and he portrays the banality of evil wonderfully. This book is a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and it’s a ride I’d read again.”

Jessica Settergren, No Pithy Phrase

“Like the great sci-fi writers of decades past, Conley uses a future setting to make insightful social and political commentary on contemporary society. At the same time, the story emerges, page by page, paragraph by paragraph, in such an engaging fashion, the underlying social message never supersedes or overpowers the characters or the plot. It is the perfect blend of social relevance with edge-of-your-seat, engaging storytelling.”

Michael S. Fedison, The Eye-Dancers

Knight in Paper Armor is a bright spot in a landscape of despair. I think we can agree that 2020 is not what we were hoping for. This book really gives me hope for the future if our youth grow up to fight even against seemingly impossible odds like Billy and Natalia.”

Liliyana Shadowlynn, The Faerie Review

“Moving, engaging and written with no-holds-barred, this tale is one that mimics reality, both past and present. Thought-provoking, dark, filled with emotional action, this dystopian tale should be a must read for those who appreciate a little mental meat to chew on.”

Dianne Bylo, Tome Tender

Knight in Paper Armor addresses some hard-hitting social issues that make you look at discrimination, differences, and the connection we all have.”

Betanda Shanam, Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored

Thanks so much, everyone, for all your support. Stay safe, stay healthy, and have a happy Thanksgiving.

Knight in Paper Armor

Amazon

Google Play

Barnes & Noble

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

Coffee Thoughts: November 2020

Wow, it’s been a crazy past month!

Sorry about my absence from blogging. I’ve been active on Twitter and other sites, but between parent life, promoting a new book, the ongoing pandemic — and, to top it off, the most stressful election week of all time, oy vey — I haven’t found the time to blog, until now.

But hey, as far as the election? Exhausting (and existentially horrifying) as it was to sit through the whole ordeal, the overpowering sense of relief that finally arrived, once Trump had lost, might’ve been the best moment of 2020. Seriously. Even now, just looking at headlines, like this one from November 7th, brings all that happy relief rolling back:

Yes, of course, there’s still a long road ahead. Undoing the damage done by Trump will take time, and there’s still a lot more damage that #45 can do (and is trying to do) on his way out, including his childish whining, lawsuits, and inane conspiracy theories. Yes, those gutless, authoritarian obstructionists like Mitch McConnell are still in power. Yes, Trumpism is the product of a greater systemic evil, not the cause of it, and the racism, hatred, and white supremacy that he riled up is still out there. Capitalist greed continues choking the most vulnerable people in society. And even with Trump gone, the road to increasingly important progressive reforms such as single-payer healthcare, ending systemic racism, and so on, will be long, tangled, and take sustained, concentrated effort — from both protests to the ballot box, and more.

But.

But.

Future challenges aside, it’s worth savoring that moment where this particular race was finally called. Remembering when finally, finally, the United States took down its abusive bully. The moment that felt, in so many ways, like finally taking a massive weight off the nation’s collective chest. Yes, there’s still a lot of work to do, but at least this part is done.

Anyway! With all this said, I’ll be back here tomorrow, to share some reviews of Knight in Paper Armor. Stay tuned!

Knight in Paper Armor: The Paperback Has Arrived

Not a fan of ebooks? No worries. The paperback edition of Knight in Paper is now available, alongside its digital sibling.

Snag your copy on Amazon today!

Knight in Paper Armor

Knight in Paper Armor

By Nicholas Conley

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

NEW RELEASE: Knight in Paper Armor

It’s here.

It feels unreal to say that. As an author, stories aren’t something you necessarily craft: if anything, as millions of writers have said millions of times, stories feel like they write themselves. It’s hard to take credit for them, as the author, when it feels like you were just the lucky person who could see through the portal into another world, and describe it all.

Honestly, though, books are places that you live in, breathe in, populated by characters and scenarios, both beautiful and tragic, that often feel as lifelike as anything else in the world. And while I feel a deep connection to each of my books, I’ll admit that Knight in Paper Armor is the one that feels the most real. Out of anything I’ve ever written, this is the one that’s struck me harder than any other. Knight in Paper Armor isn’t just a book, to me, but also a story, a setting, and a group of characters that have been with me for a long, long time. And now, I’m excited to share this world with the rest of you.

That’s right: Knight in Paper Armor is now available, and as a release day promotion, the ebook edition can be bought on Amazon — on today only! — for just $2.99.

The price of a coffee — what could be more appropriate? 

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Release day! The ebook edition of my newest book, Knight in Paper Armor, is now available. Thanks so much for your support, everyone! https://www.amazon.com/Knight-Paper-Armor-Nicholas-Conley-ebook/dp/B08CLSSX8Z KNIGHT IN PAPER ARMOR: Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others. Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind. When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know. #book #bookstagram #dystopian #scifi #newrelease

A post shared by Nicholas Conley (@nicholas.conley.writes) on

Paperback fans, don’t worry — the physical edition should be out shortly, as well, so just stay tuned to the Amazon page. If you want an update as soon as it does arrive, just tag me in the comments. And in the meantime, ebook readers can find Knight in Paper Armor at the following online stores:

Amazon

Google

Itunes

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Thanks for your support, everyone reading this. I genuinely appreciate everyone who stops by, every comment, and every like. You guys are awesome, and thanks for everything you all do.

Onward, as the new adventure begins!

Knight in Paper Armor

By Nicholas Conley

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

Knight in Paper Armor Nicholas Conley

Supporting the U.S. Post Office Still Matters

If you grow up in the United States, there are certain public services that you might take for granted, but — when you stop to think of them — are actually a rather amazing privilege. Public libraries are one example. Fire departments? Definitely. Public schools. State parks. I would argue that in a better world, universal healthcare would be included here (er, correction, as I have have argued, over and over, such as in this Truthout piece), but for now, that’s not the case. Moving on.

One of the greatest public agencies in United States history, though, is the U.S. postal system, founded in 1775, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster. Since then, for centuries, the U.S. Post Office has maintained its role as a public service, connecting people from all classes, areas, and demographics. What makes the USPS so important, compared to private companies like UPS and FedEx, is that the USPS sends and delivers mail to and from every community, for the same flat and affordable prices, from packed condominium complexes to the most rural areas in the country. In fact, private delivery companies often pay USPS to deliver the packages they can’t cut a profit on. That’s how essential this service is, and why a private company could never take its place. And even in the 21st century, as Vox points out, there are shockingly huge parts of the country, textbook rural America, which still have no reliable internet connection, meaning that the post office plays a vital role in keeping these communities connected to the greater whole.

That’s why it’s so terrifying that now, in 2020, the USPS is under attack.

Attacks on the USPS are nothing new, as Jacobin elaborates. The post office has been under fire for decades, with greedy corporations and individuals anxious to take it over, privatize it, and turn a profit from it. The stereotype that the post office is “going broke” is itself a misnomer, since the agency’s money problems are the result of intentional sabotage, by unfair policies designed to break it down. If the USPS did become privatized, it would destroy everything that makes the USPS important — and in 2020, the year of the pandemic, a year where people of all parties and demographics should be rallying around mail-in voting as a way to keep vulnerable and immunocompromised populations safe, we are instead seeing this vital agency becoming politicized, slandered, and attacked.

So, today, standing up for the post office, and supporting it in any way possible — through speaking out, buying stamps, or whatever method is available to you — is also standing up for freedom, truth, democracy, equality, and the right to vote. The post office has always been essential, and this year, it’s time to recognize just how essential it truly is.

BOOK REVEAL: Nicholas Conley’s ‘Knight in Paper Armor,’ coming September 15, 2020

This one has been a long time coming. Writing a book is always an amazing experience, but seeing this particular novel finally come to life — from the moment the spark of an idea first hit me, years ago, to the impending reality of its release date — has, honestly, felt transformative.

It’s exciting. Nerve-wracking. Definitely surreal. But here, I’m thrilled to finally pull back the curtain, and announce the release date for my next book: Knight in Paper Armor — coming September 15th, 2020!

Knight in Paper Armor Nicholas Conley

Knight in Paper Armor

by Nicholas Conley

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

Grunge Roundup, June 2020

Hi, folks! Been a while since I rounded up some of the articles I write for Grunge.com articles, so here are a few fairly recent ones:

Grunge: The problematic truth about the origins of the Electoral College

One of the weirdest parts of U.S. democracy is the remarkably undemocratic Electoral College. As angry voters will tell you, two of the last three American presidents were elected despite losing the popular vote. Today, Time Magazine reports that 53% of voters support ending this bizarre institution. How did this nonsense get started, though?

Well, the first thing to understand about the Electoral College is that it was designed to be anti-democratic …

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/182662/the-problematic-truth-about-the-origins-of-the-electoral-college/?utm_campaign=clip

Grunge: Here’s how many people died during the bombing of Hiroshima

If you grew up in the United States, you’re familiar with a certain elementary school narrative regarding World War II, about how the U.S. triumphantly “ended the war” by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The truth? Well, it’s a bit more complex, as usual.

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/202205/heres-how-many-people-died-during-the-bombing-of-hiroshima/?utm_campaign=clip

Grunge: The truth about ranked-choice voting

There’s no arguing that the 2020 Iowa caucus was a mess. However, in the hubbub about how undemocratic the caucus process really is, it’s worth noting that an alternative voting method has been making huge strides in the past few years, which combines the benefits of caucuses and traditional voting in one bright, shiny package: it’s called ranked-choice voting (or instant run-off voting), and it’s a system that allows people to easily vote for their top choice in a crowded field, irrespective of that candidate’s popularity, while also lending their support to other, presumably more popular candidates at the same time.

Here’s how it works.

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/191319/the-truth-about-ranked-choice-voting/?utm_campaign=clip

Grunge: The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was worse than you thought

Human civilization rests on a precarious foundation. People strive to overcome the elements, to build societies, and to assert themselves over nature, but the truth is, people are just one tiny part of a bigger whole, and the Earth — at any moment — can erupt in a rather volatile fashion. That said, while natural disasters are inherently uncontrollably, the human response to such disasters has often caused the most damage of all.

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/210885/the-1906-san-francisco-earthquake-was-worse-than-you-thought/?utm_campaign=clip

Coffee Thoughts: June 2020 — Black Lives Matter

Change is happening.

In the wake of centuries of systemic racism, decades of police brutality cases on the news, and most recently, the horrific 2020 murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, the current protests happening from state-to-state are making waves across society, and should hopefully mark a turning point in this country’s history. As of this writing — and as a direct result of these powerful protests — all of the police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd are now facing charges. The Breonna Taylor case has been reopened. Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are calling to change “qualified immunity” laws, and Confederate monuments are finally being toppled. The deep, bloody systemic roots of America’s racism can no longer be ignored or silenced. Black lives matter.

In times like these, anti-racism should be visible, bold, and public. However, as a privileged white person, I tried to take a lot of time to consider what I should write here, and how best to show my support for the movement. Then, it occurred to me: This isn’t a time to put my words out there. Instead, I’m going to use this as an opportunity to step back, and broadcast Black voices, giving time and attention to those who have experienced America’s racism firsthand. So, here are a handful of articles, videos, links, and so on, from those who can speak far more deeply, potently, and personally on this subject than I ever could:

NAACP Image Award Nominated author Kimberly Jones:

Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show:

So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge,” the Los Angeles Times.

Having been enslaved for 250 years, black people were not left to their own devices. They were terrorized. In the Deep South, a second slavery ruled. In the North, legislatures, mayors, civic associations, banks, and citizens all colluded to pin black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged, and undereducated. Businesses discriminated against them, awarding them the worst jobs and the worst wages. Police brutalized them in the streets. And the notion that black lives, black bodies, and black wealth were rightful targets remained deeply rooted in the broader society. Now we have half-stepped away from our long centuries of despoilment, promising, “Never again.” But still we are haunted. It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.

Ta-Nehesi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” the Atlantic.

Further reading:

Reblog: The Problem with Paywalls

First posted this back in 20`18, but hey, why not reblog? Thus, reblog!

Nicholas Conley

Over the past few centuries, it’s been said many times, in many ways, how the cornerstone of democracy is a free press. For the sake of having a more free and just society, we also want an informed society. Newspapers, news websites, news stations, and so on must have the freedom to write about anyone, or anything, at any time, in order to hold the world’s most powerful institutions in check. In the same way that news institutions need to sharply critique the policies of other institutions, though, it’s equally important for citizens to be able to carefully scrutinize the news they read: to ensure that all news sources, from the New York Times to JoeBillysNews.com (not a real site!), use proper citations, follow journalistic standards, correctly present information, don’t misrepresent facts, and so on, in order to make sure that the public isn’t just informed, but accurately informed.

So…

View original post 428 more words

Coffee Thoughts: May 2020

Welcome to Coffee Thoughts, May 2020! That’s right, May has arrived. Consider this a helpful reminder of the date, since (as you’ve probably noticed) all the days tend to run together in quarantine time.

On that note …

No, America isn’t ready to “re-open”

Currently, you’re seeing a number of selfish politicians, corporations, and our current Buffoon-in-Chief making pushes to “re-open” the United States, usually by waving U.S. flags around (metaphorically, if not literally), saying how wearing masks and/or caring about other people is “just not our way,” or making dire predictions about how another month of shutdown will (gasp!) turn us into the U.S.S.R, or similar such nonsense.

Obviously, that’s a bunch of hot air. Any of these big figures who want to reopen things are motivated by greed, and nothing else. That’s it. You’d think that for giant corporations, it would be enough that they stole all the bailout funds intended for small business relief (New York Times), but now, you can quite literally see a bunch of wealthy people saying, basically, “Open things up, and let the poor die, as long as we get our business rolling again.” This is cutthroat capitalism at its worst.

Here’s the reality. While the Trump administration (and the ever-smarmy Jared Kushner) are desperately trying to say that the crisis is over, or that America’s response was a “great success story,” the numbers don’t lie: as of May 6th, COVID-19 has killed 72,293 U.S. people, including thousands of deaths in the past few days alone, and the true number is probably far larger than that.

By listening to the experts, and not reopening too soon, it will be possible to re-open in a smart, reasonable way — but stupidly barreling forward, and ignoring the data, will just cause more people to die.

The Pentagon released UFO footage. Yeah, really.

As if 2020 wasn’t weird enough, the past month saw the Pentagon confirm that a few clips of what looked like a UFO were … well, a UFO. Seriously. If this news had hit at any other time, you’d be seeing it everywhere, but in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels like too much. It’s as if two sci-fi genres got mashed together without enough planning, so now, people are just confused by the whole alien subplot, and not sure how it fits into the main narrative. You know?

Now, a caveat is necessary. First, these videos have been online for a few years. They were just “unauthorized,” and the Pentagon has now, well, “authorized them.” Two, the term UFO does not mean alien, extraterrestrial, or any of that. Here’s a clip, courtesy of the Guardian:

Note, again, that the U in UFO stands for “unidentified,” not “alien.” There are a lot of potential explanations for what these things might be, but the key is that the U.S. government can’t figure it out. As Daniel Oberhaus writes for Wired:

So does the official authorization of these videos mean the Pentagon has finally admitted that aliens exist? Nope. For starters, anything the military labels “unidentified” is not necessarily extraterrestrial. It’s just something in the sky that military officials can’t explain—civil and military pilots see unidentified aircraft all the time. Could they be piloted by little green men? Sure, if you have an active imagination. But usually they turn out to be something much more mundane—an atmospheric illusion, an undisclosed military drill, a satellite, or evidence of a tired pilot’s brain playing tricks on them.

That doesn’t mean that these things aren’t alien, of course. They could be … or, they could be something far less exciting. So while this hardly counts for much, if you’re the sort looking for proof of extraterrestrial life, it’s interesting, nonetheless.

On a lighter note …

If the movie industry ever recovers from this current catastrophe, I have some predictions for the future:

Novel Update

As a full-time writer, I’m extremely lucky in that I already work from home, and my work flow hasn’t slowed down at all. That said, amidst my other writing, I’m always happy to report that my next novel is continuing to move forward! It’s a little early to make a release prediction, given the current pandemic — maybe the end of this year, maybe the beginning of next? — but either way, soon.

Cheers, and hope you all have a great Monday!