I’m thrilled to welcome Felicia Davin on Queer Books Unbound to celebrate the release of the second book in her Nowhere series!
I first heard of this series a couple weeks ago when Felicia promoted the book with “2 space gays scam a trillionaire, accidentally fall in love“. SCAM. A. TRILLIONAIRE. I knew I had to read the series then. (Plus: look at those covers!)
I haven’t had time to read this one yet, but I read the first book in the series, Edge of Nowhere, and it’s simply fantastic – gripping and mesmerizing; it swept me of my feet and took me away into the world of runners, space stations and evil trillionaires. It has a completely diverse cast of characters, lots of twists and turns sprinkled with fun and sexy times. I highly recommend y’all to read it too!
But now back to book 2: scroll down to read Felicia’s awesome guest post!
Aidan Blackwood barely survived an unethical experiment by Quint Services. Researchers there robbed him of his ability to access the Nowhere, a void between worlds that allows him to teleport. Aidan plans to destroy the company and the man behind it, trillionaire Oswin Lewis Quint.
The problem? Aidan’s childhood best friend Caleb is the one who rescued him. Aidan’s spent years distancing himself from Caleb. It’s the only way to protect him from the dangers of Aidan’s life as a Nowhere runner—and the only way for Aidan to protect his fragile heart from unrequited love. Now Caleb is inextricably involved in Aidan’s most dangerous plan yet. Aidan’s already lost his power. He can’t lose the person he cares about the most.
Caleb lied his way into a secret Quint Services facility to rescue his best friend. He won’t be shut out of Aidan’s life now, even if it means risking his own life in Aidan’s wild scheme for revenge. As they pit themselves against a ruthless, corrupt trillionaire, Caleb worries that his unexplored feelings for Aidan might be love—and that he might not live long enough to find out.
Content Warnings: main character subjected to a horrific science experiment prior to the story (experiment includes starvation, violation of bodily integrity), minor physical violence, two in-story instances of non-consensual sedation, mentions of needles, explicit sex, prejudice (against people who can teleport, mostly), mention of the death of a parent
Out of Nowhere is a story about identity. I mean that both in the usual way it applies to queer fiction—one of the main characters, Caleb, realizes he’s bisexual and comes out over the course of the story—but also in a science-fiction way.
When I first started writing Out of Nowhere, I joked with friends that it was “that one BuzzFeed quiz about whether you’d fuck your clone, but as a book.” I probably shouldn’t advertise the book that way; no actual clone-fucking occurs. (Apologies.) The person Caleb falls in love with has entirely different genetic material from him. But Caleb does start the book by encountering his mirror-verse double, a man who looks exactly like him, and this discovery sets in motion both his emotional journey and a plot to use the mirror-verse as part of a scam.
Mirror-verses have a long history in sci-fi. Star Trek: The Original Series is probably the most famous example, with evil Spock and his evil goatee. More recently, Star Trek: Discovery made the mirror-verse a huge part of its first season. Fringe is another example of a TV show about alternate universes that comes to mind, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Willow meets her alternate-universe vampire double and says, in what turns out to be a prophetic moment, “I think I’m kinda gay.”
Caleb doesn’t actually quote that line after meeting his double, but it’s there under the surface.
The sound of his double’s question echoed in his mind. Caleb would use that voice if he was flirting. But why would he flirt with himself? Sure, Caleb wanted people to like him, enjoyed making people giggle and blush, but he’d never been so overtly sexual with another man.
His double was smirking. Caleb had never looked that smug in his life. As for his own face, he wished he could muster an expression other than bewildered. “Who are you? Where did you come from?”
Doubles are great for TV shows because the actors can play two characters who look alike but behave differently. And on that subject, Orphan Black isn’t about mirror-verses—it’s about actual clones—but I had it in mind while writing, because that show did such wonderful, Shakespearean things with its identical characters posing as each other.
I wanted to write something like that, something with a lot of doubling and mix-ups. Caleb and his double pretend to be each other, as do other characters. It turned out to be fertile ground for thinking about not just identity, but also the troubling nature of the near-future world where the Nowhere series is set. Facial recognition algorithms are common in this world; the trillionaire antagonist of Out of Nowhere made his fortune by designing one. This led me to writing a kind of inverse idea—not two different people with the same face, but one person with two different faces—and makeup and masks became a part of the story.
Caleb has a double, and the other main character, Aidan, spends much of the story wearing a sci-fi device called a “disruptor,” intended to trick surveillance algorithms.
“What’s wrong with your face?” Caleb asked, frowning.
Aidan tapped his glasses. “Disruptor. You don’t like it? Usually the default setting on these things is an upgrade. Smoothing things over, making them more symmetrical. Hell, it’s probably straightening my teeth.”
“Your face was fine the way it was,” Caleb said.
I had a ton of fun layering these things—doubles, masks, recognition—into a plot that culminates in a fake relationship, so the characters are constantly forced to ask “Is this real?”
We don’t yet live in a world of quasi-omniscient facial recognition algorithms (unfortunate emphasis on yet), and if the multiverse exists, I haven’t encountered it, but sussing out true from false is an experience that all of us have had. And especially for those of us who’ve gone on the sometimes slow and winding journey of figuring out our sexual orientation or gender identity, questioning yourself is all too familiar. (Do I really feel this way? Am I tricking myself? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?) Trusting your feelings is as crucial to knowing yourself as it is to falling in love.
I am grateful my own journey didn’t involve the sci-fi complications in Out of Nowhere, but for the record, yes, I would fuck my clone.
When not writing and reading fiction, Felicia Davin can be found teaching or translating French. She loves linguistics, singing, and baking. She is bisexual, but not ambidextrous.
Originally from much warmer climes, she currently lives in Massachusetts with her partner and their cat.
Genre: Sci-Fi Orientation: Bisexual Pairing: M/M Self Published Tag: Found Family Tag: Friends to Lovers Tag: Guest Post Tag: Mistaken Identity Tag: Only One Bed Tag: Part of a series Tag: Pining Tag: Pretend Relationship Felicia Davin Nowhere series Out of Nowhere