Monday, December 5, 2016

Straight Reading from the Library: Into the Void

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Emma Stein will be awarding 8 postcards with illustrations from her work in progress, "Unspeakables" to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


The country of Anglina is teeming with social upheaval, and its officials have found an unlikely national hero in a philosopher and social activist named Horace. The Anglinian government has appointed the effeminate, irreverent, and stubborn scholar to undertake a journey around the world to learn the secret of other countries’ success. Unfortunately for Horace, most of the societies he visits turn out to be drastically different from what he expected, and he repeatedly sends scathing but witty reports about his travels and the people he encounters. At the end of his journey, Horace encounters a series of communes whose inhabitants welcome him into their ranks and open his eyes to more a liberal and egalitarian way of life.


I absolutely adore well-written and witty satire, and this book fulfilled my every expectation. Written as a series of letters, Horace visits several societies around his world to learn why and how they are successful. At every stop, there are things about the particular society that the reader will be able to see in our own world.

I can see where this might be a book that readers will either love or hate--count this reader among the lovers. Ms. Stein has a unique viewpoint coming, I'm sure, from the life she's led. Not only can she see clearly the foibles of this country, but she can also pull from the conditions in the other countries she's visited.

Good job, Ms. Stein. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

5 stars.

Entry point to Brema
State of Gärnröde
Federal Union of Elberein

Dear Addie,
,BR> You will have to scratch my itinerary, or better yet burn it and send it on the winds to these fools who keep me locked in waiting as though I were a criminal. When I tried to enter the Federal Union of Elberein, the cretins at the portcullis listened to the first three words out of my mouth and decided I was fit for detention. My wishing them “Good day, gentlemen” must have been sign enough of my cultural inferiority to justify them confining me in this dank––not really a room, really more like one of those oubliettes you throw your servants into when you catch them eating your leftovers after supper. Only it smells quite a bit worse.

Whereas you, in your boundless generosity and mercy, detain a maximum of five persons at any one time in your little oubliette––and for four days at most––I have the impression over a dozen people have shared this hole in the wall for weeks on end. I would stuff my nostrils to bursting with an old handkerchief if I thought it would help, but these vapours are so potent they would disintegrate the cloth in no time and press on to invade my olfactory circuit. I swear I can see waves of stench radiating from the slime-coated walls.

I have claimed my spot in a corner of this chamber. There is no furniture to speak of, only heaps of rags, and I thought it would be best to have corporeal support from the back and the side as I write, which is essentially all I can do. Leaving the cell is out of the question, as is the physical activity I have grown accustomed to and now cherish. If I were to stand up in my corner, I would need to take a mere seven steps before smacking into a wall in either direction. Six if I made an effort. So I will write. What else can I do? I’m sure you’ve got some snide answer to that question, but I advise you to omit it from your response. But of course by the time you get around to replying, I’ll have forgotten what I even asked….


Always lagging behind current technological developments, Emma wrote all of her fledgling books and essays in a crabbed script until the demands of university life convinced her that it might be worthwhile to invest in a word processing program. That same university life caused a long hiatus in her creative writing activity but provided much of the kindling for her current literary endeavors. Until March of 2014, when she started working as a translator for a large software company, most of her publications were therefore academic in nature.

Emma has lived abroad since 2008, and her experiences in France, Canada, Germany, and Russia influence her work considerably. This influence is particularly powerful in Into the Void, which parodies different facets and institutions of these countries and explores the difficulty of retaining one’s own identity while trying to assimilate into another culture. Theories from Cultural Studies and Sociology form another cornerstone of Emma’s work, and she enlivens what many people would consider dry texts with interpretations that are full of wit and unexpected spins on the order of things. Her penchant for pinpointing the foibles and follies of both herself and her fellows is a fine source for her satires, be they written or illustrated.

Emma was born near Chicago in 1986 and has lived in Germany since 2011. She recently opened a translation company in Kiel, where she continues to surprise the natives with the historically inspired clothing that she designs and wears.

ZAZZLE (illustrations):

Buy the book at Amazon for only $0.99.


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