Ada Hoffman is joining us today to talk about her novel, The Fallen, sequel to The Outside. Here’s the publisher’s description:
From the immersive and intoxicating world of The Outside, comes the exhilarating sequel from Philip K Dick and Compton Crook Award-nominated author, Ada Hoffmann.
The laws of physics acting on the planet of Jai have been forever upended; its surface completely altered, and its inhabitants permanently changed, causing chaos. Fearing heresy, the artificially intelligent Gods that once ruled the galaxy became the planet’s jailers.
Tiv Hunt, who once trusted these Gods completely, spends her days helping the last remaining survivors of Jai. Everyone is fighting for their freedom and they call out for drastic action from their saviour, Tiv’s girlfriend Yasira. But Yasira has become deeply ill, debilitated by her Outside exposure, and is barely able to breathe, let alone lead a revolution.
Hunted by the Gods and Akavi, the disgraced angel, Yasira and Tiv must delve further than ever before into the maddening mysteries of their fractured planet in order to save – or perhaps even destroy – their fading world.
What’s Ada’s favorite bit?
*Spoiler ahead for THE OUTSIDE*
One of the fun things about writing a sequel is getting to delve that much deeper into each of your characters – who they are as people, where they’re coming from, how the twists and turns of the first book had some lasting effect on them. THE FALLEN features a fun ensemble cast of neurodiverse heroes, but I’ll always have a soft spot for the angels – villainous cyborgs who work for the artificially intelligent Gods.
The ending of THE OUTSIDE had two of our angel characters – Akavi, the charismatic shapeshifting leader, and Elu, his tender-hearted second-in-command – failing at their mission and running away to escape the Gods’ judgment. Enga – an intimidating soldier with guns for arms, who can’t speak aloud but uses text to communicate – was left behind.
So as the angels try to hunt down our heroes, they’re also playing a game of cat and mouse with each other. Enga feels abandoned by the other two and wants revenge, while Akavi and Elu struggle to adjust to living together without the angelic hierarchy that always defined them.
This part of the plot reveals more about who the angels are and how they got to be that way – in particular, about how both Elu and Enga ended up on Akavi’s team.
I love diving into shady characters like these and what makes them tick. The Gods often use underhanded methods to recruit their angels; both Elu and Enga are people who’ve been taken advantage of. In their own ways, they’re both different from other angels, and they’re offered appreciation and support for their differences, but with heavy strings attached:
Akavi’s head tilted. “I see why you failed basic training.”
There was amusement in Akavi’s microexpressions now, though he kept it well-suppressed. “You’re not only a bad liar, you’re painfully honest. All your answers to my questions are so precise, yet without any deeper calculation. You’re not thinking even a little bit of how to spin the facts. What I might want to hear. What would put you in the most favorable position. I see that in mortals sometimes, but I’ve never seen it in an angel of Nemesis. It’s refreshing.”
Akavi values Elu’s honesty and loyalty – because they make Elu easy to control. When no longer feels fully under his control, now that the two of them are in a new position, their relationship quickly deteriorates. Akavi values Enga’s strong, angry will – because he thinks it will make her a good weapon! But now she’s doing her utmost to turn that will against him.
A lot of parts of THE FALLEN took hard work to get them into the shape that they needed to be in. But these complicated, messy, sometimes-ugly relationships between the angel characters are my favorite things to write, and I put them down on the page with glee.
Ada Hoffmann is the author of the space opera novel THE OUTSIDE, its sequel THE FALLEN, the collection MONSTERS IN MY MIND, and dozens of speculative short stories and poems. Ada’s work has been a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award (2020, THE OUTSIDE), the Compton Crook Award (2020, THE OUTSIDE), and the WSFA Small Press Award (2020, “Fairest of All”).
Ada was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 13, and is passionate about autistic self-advocacy. Her Autistic Book Party review series is devoted to in-depth discussions of autism representation in speculative fiction. Much of her own work also features autistic characters.
Ada is an adjunct professor of computer science at a major Canadian university, and she did her PhD thesis (in 2018) on teaching computers to write poetry. She is a former semi-professional soprano, tabletop gaming enthusiast, and LARPer. She lives in eastern Ontario.