Never Now Always (ebook)
Post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror novella that explores how the stories we tell about ourselves shape us and those around us. It's a chilling and thoughtful look at the thin line between memory and dream and the drive to find family.
Never Now Always takes place in a future in which something's gone terribly wrong. But Lolo's memories aren't what they used to be. What's real? What's dream? She can't say, but she's sure there used to be more. Who are these Caretakers? Where's her family, her sister? What happened to the world? So many questions. Time to find answers.
Never Now Always is a search for meaning, an apocalyptic murder mystery. It's a twisting mix of The Great Escape, Dark City, and Jacob's Ladder.
Words. Memory. Identity.
They came. And they took away our story. And they rewrote everything: all minds, all lives, all history. Everyone forgot.
But in this now, Lolo must reclaim her stolen words—her stolen family—from the silent Caretakers. She must call out to all rapt children, "This world is hell. Let’s run." When the words needed are forgotten, lying unknown, when memories flit like smoke, how can she recover what is lost? She must. To live in this nightmare without a story would be too much to bear.
FROM THE AUTHOR
What's the novella about? A world where memory and family aren't taken for granted—even if they're only dreams. Desirina shares on the themes that permeate Never Now Always, "Our memories and our stories are our selves. They’re also a kind of weapon: the tools our past gives us to navigate our future. When I think of what terrifies me, I think of losing my narrative. I think, without that weapon, how would I fight?
"My novella is about children trapped in a perpetual present. They don’t know how or why they came to be in this labyrinth. To their alien Caretakers, the children are nothing more than lab rats: keys to a mystery about memory far larger than they could understand. As they undergo their captors’ experiments, a few children begin to excavate fragments of their lost past. These stories might be the key to survival. Or they might just be another form of subterfuge.
"But through it all, one story remains, and it’s the oldest one there is—our desperate human need to be together. To find a family. To be safe and touched and loved.
"I began this novella with a question: what scares me the most? It was hard to write, in a good way. It’s raw for me; it’s what’s true. I’m so grateful for the support of Broken Eye Books in helping me tell it and in offering a platform for such a weird little book as this one."
Desirina talks more about the book at John Scalzi's blog Whatever: "In the end, the story returns to the one idea I find most comforting: that in this world and the next, life after life, we always make our way back to protect those who’ve protected us, and to be reunited with the souls we’ve loved."
"Never Now Always is an intriguing puzzle, as layered and elusive as memory itself." (Molly Tanzer, author of Vermilion and Creatures of Will and Temper)
"Lolo’s voice is gripping, sometimes pared down to its bones and sometimes expansive and beautiful... the evocative prose breathes strange life into inanimate details." (Publisher's Weekly)
"It is harrowing, heartbreaking work, as Boskovich pulls away layer after layer of Lolo’s resolve, working her protagonist down to the nub, until the truth is laid bare: as long as you can remember even a little bit, you can resist." (Martin Cahill's review at Strange Horizons)
"A pitch-perfect marriage of science fiction and horror, Desirina Boskovich weaves a disturbing and provocative evocation of childhood trauma, dehumanization, and lost time that resembles nothing so much as the future of weird fiction. Like all the best stories, Never Now Always is written in blood." (Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World)
"[W]eird dark surreal post-WTF-alytic novella Never Now Always . . . it's a great book . . ." (Scott Nicolay, author of Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed)
"Lots of books are scared—scared of not selling, scared of giving offense, scared of being too weird. Never Now Always is fearlessly bizarre and completely itself, a lysergic word storm that feels like science fiction finally remembered the promise it made back in the New Wave Sixties to boldly go where no one had gone before. What took you so long, weird sci-fi? We missed you!" (Grady Hendrix, author of Horrorstör)
"A heartrendingly beautiful exploration of how memories shape our consensus reality, and how our past continually slips away from our minds like sand through fingers. Desirina Boskovich's Never Now Always broke my heart in all the ways it needed to be broken. Ostensibly set in the future, her story cannot be more timely." (Matthew Kressel, author of King of Shards)
"An incisive story about identity and the tenuous line between dreams and reality, Never Now Always is as brutal as it is beautifully written. Although I don’t want to spoil anything here, suffice it to say that this is one story that will break your heart and open your eyes with its incredible blend of science fiction, fantasy, and the weird. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy stories that are anything but simple and predictable." (Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe)
"The traumas we face as children tend to stay with us, shaping the kind of adults we become. If something so traumatizing had occurred as a child that it would devastate the rest of your life, would you want it erased? Which is better: imposed ignorance or devastating truth?" (Brian Kirk, author of We Are Monsters)
"From the start, Boskovich plunges the reader into the same disorienting world that the characters inhabit, where dreams, nightmares, and memories all blur together. Reality itself is in question, but the one thing Lolo is sure of is that she has a sister, and that her sister was taken from her. Some of Lolo’s memories are beautiful, like a Fourth of July cookout, and playing in the grass with her sister and their dog. Others are visions of loss, her sister ripped away from her on a playground, a strange city where Harvesters devour children and fill the streets with blood." (AC Wise, author of The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories and The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again)
"There are cycles repeated here, as Lolo and the others try to find and support each other and ultimately escape, but the ongoing layers of mystery means that there is never a moment without intrigue. Is their bizarre prison on Earth, or somewhere else? Are Lolo and the others children, or adults who have lost their semantic and episodic memories—or something else? Are the Caretakers around them seeking to experiment, indoctrinate, or possibly protect these humans from self-inflicted harm?" (Black Gate, by Brandon Crilly)
"I read it in a perpetual state somewhere between admiring awe (I kept pausing to go, 'wow' in that low sort of breath like you do) and a major skin-crawling case of the creeps. The way it's written is a mix of unsettling and delicious, capturing a childlike perspective but done with masterful adult skill." (Christine Morgan at The Horror Fiction Review)
"It is endearing and thrilling as the chase begins and hope blooms. It is unpredictable and the visuals invoked are tremendous and vast, at one point fantastically terrifying. Never Now Always is tough journey with little hope and it is absolutely deserving of any attention it will receive." (Unnerving Magazine)
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Desirina Boskovich's short fiction has been published in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Nightmare, F&SF, Kaleidotrope, PodCastle, Drabblecast, and anthologies such as Aliens: Recent Encounters, The Apocalypse Triptych and Tomorrow’s Cthulhu. Her nonfiction pieces on music, literature, and culture have appeared in Lightspeed, Weird Fiction Review, the Huffington Post, Wonderbook, and The Steampunk Bible. She is also the editor of It Came From the North: An Anthology of Finnish Speculative Fiction (Cheeky Frawg, 2013), and together with Jeff VanderMeer, co-author of The Steampunk User's Manual (Abrams Image, 2014). Find her online at www.desirinaboskovich.com.