STRINGERS is my second novel, and second outing with incredible publisher Angry Robot Books. It’s a heartfelt sci-fi space opera and vehicle for potty jokes. Despite that, it received a starred review from Publishers Weekly as well as enthusiastic reviews from The Guardian and ALA Booklist!
Knowledge can get you killed. Especially if you have no idea what it means.
Ben is not a genius, but he can spout facts about animals and wristwatches with the best of experts. He just can’t explain how he knows any of it.
He also knows about the Chime. What it is or why it’s important he couldn’t say. But this knowledge is about to get him in a whole heap of trouble.
After he and his best friend Patton are abducted by a trash-talking, flesh-construct alien bounty hunter, Ben finds out just how much he is worth… and how dangerous he can be. Hopefully Patton and a stubborn jar of pickles will be enough to help him through. Because being able to describe the mating habits of Brazilian bark lice isn’t going to save them.
PRAISE FOR STRINGERS
Where Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy recommended towels, this slapstick and semisweet space opera sends its Earthlings out among the aliens armed only with a jar of pickles...Readers are in for a treatPublishers Weekly, in a Starred Review
Delightfully smart, funny, fast-moving entertainment that really did make me laugh out loud.Full review at The Guardian
Panatier’s second novel (following The Phlebotomist, 2020) impresses with a touching exploration of what sentient beings owe to one another nestled into a rip-roaring space adventure and punctuated by sophomoric humor…Panatier combines humor, action, and a memorable cast of characters to deliver a read perfect for fans of Becky Chambers who appreciate a good fart joke and fans of Douglas Adams interested in considering serious moral quandaries in between chuckles.American Library Association’s BOOKLIST
Written by Chris Panatier, this sci-fi fantasy ranks off the chart on the oddball meter. Ben’s brain adds side commentary in the form of footnotes containing musings and scientific facts, the novel is actually somewhat educational. Panatier explores the hilarity of alien abductions in this feel-good buddy story. If you read only one space adventure featuring a jar of pickles, make sure that it is Stringers.Read the full review from The Seattle Book Review here
Wholly original. Ridiculously brilliant. Panatier’s Stringers is filled with genuine characters, mind-boggling humor, and the raw and hysterical emotions of beings plucked from obscurity, sold to the highest bidders, and used to serve Universe altering purposes. Panatier’s unconventional storytelling, combined with poetic sentences and a plethora of bug facts you never knew you needed, will keep you entertained until the very end. I can’t recommend enough. – Noelle Salazar, author of THE FLIGHT GIRLS
“Many writers try to play it safe with the dreaded second novel. Many writers, but not all, as Chris Panatier took chances and delivered with his second book… Reminiscent of the well-loved Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Stringers delivers the laughs, with the jokes drawing on the author’s clear love affair with the grotesque, with poignant moments peppered throughout. A highly enjoyable read with moments of real emotional honesty that deserves to reach a wide audience.”
– Gabriela Houston, author of THE SECOND BELL
In a universe of sci-fi novels, Chris Panatier’s Stringers inhabits a galaxy all its own. Equal parts hilarious, inventive, and action-packed, this absolute gem of a book delivers a riveting, poignant plot full of flawed, lovable characters. Come for the bug sex, stay for the jar of pickles. – Ron Walters, author of DEEP DIVE
STRINGERS is f*cking ridiculous in all the best ways. I haven’t laughed this hard at anything EVER. In fact, to have this many laugh-out-loud moments should be illegal – there are nuggets of gold to be found on every page. Throw in a fun plot, characters who are rich and lively and incredibly funny in their own distinct ways, and a unique and engaging format (you’ll see), and you’ve got yourself a joyous and exciting read. None of you are ready for this. – Dan Hanks, author of SWASHBUCKLERS and CAPTAIN MOXLEY AND THE EMBERS OF THE EMPIRE
Panatier’s latest book is a riotous, interdimensional adventure with heart. Zany and erudite, Stringers reads like an SMBC comic that swallowed a whole series of Red Dwarf, veering from the unabashedly puerile to the profound by way of esoterica and galactic hijinks. With bug facts galore and a truly memorable jar of pickles, it has all the makings of a cult favourite. Panatier is one to watch. – Calder-Szewczak, authors of THE OFFSET
Panatier finds the sweet spot between the social satire of The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief and the pathos of the farting, tap dancing aliens of the planet Margo. A tour de ridicule!
– R.W.W. Greene, author of TWENTY-FIVE TO LIFE and THE LIGHT YEARS
BOOK BLOG REVIEWS
Lezlie Smith at The Nerdy Narrative, breaks it down in this non-spoiler review.Here’s Lezlie’s Patreon
The sheer inventive delight of Stringers is that way it weaves in some truly fantastical elements that are equal parts laugh out loud funny and terrifyingly scary with a propulsive narrative that doesn’t let up for a second. The thing that impresses is that for all the full speed ahead, pedal to the spaceship metal that fills Stringers to giddy inducing bursting point, there’s a huge amount of emotional resonance to be had too.
Don’t get us wrong – in and of itself the humour in this novel is everything – artfully clever, perfectly judged and timed to perfection; but it comes alive all the more because it is borne from vibrant, fully-realised characterisation and a narrative that springs in its emotional intensity and impact from the way the characters to some life-changing, reality-bending revelations.
If you have ever wondered whether there is any real off-the-charts original imaginative storytelling left in novels, and frankly where you have been since there is plainly lots (we are in a golden period of authors breaking all the genre rules and more power to them), then Stringers reassuringly and without apologies shouts “YES!” from the top of an immense spire in a city the size of a moon (again, this will make much more sense later).
Throughout Stringers, with its wacky, brilliantly wonderful, healthy dose of imaginatively ladled-out bug facts, Panatier adds real heart and soul, an offbeat way of looking at life that you will heartily embrace, and then some, and a story so breathtakingly different and unique that you will wonder if you are fit for any subsequent stories set in space.
Of course, the answer will be yes, but in the meantime, wallow and glory in the vividly unusual and expansively rich and funny delights of Stringers, a novel which takes an inspired premise, runs with it, very humorously we should add, and offers up a story that is so out of this world and yet so groundedly human that you will need a jar of pickles, backward text and hilariously informative footnotes just to deal with it, and deal with you shall in ways that will make you wonder how you ever lived without this gem of a novel.Full review from Andrew Gillman of sparklyprettybriiiight.com
While carefully skirting around some of the details of the plot, what I can say is that things get considerably more epic than you might expect, Panatier showing that he’s equally as adept at crafting an entire universe for a comedy-tinged space opera as he was at creating the unsettling dystopian world of The Phlebotomist. It’s another mash up of a few different ideas too – there’s a heist movie feel to some elements, as a team with specialised skills comes together to track down Ben, as well as the buddy movie feel of Ben and Patton’s relationship, plus plenty of large scale action packed moments. There’s some extremely in-depth world building in there too, with some deep ideas to chew over. Crucially, all these elements just mesh seamlessly; it never feels like things are novel just for the sake of being novel…
In case it wasn’t clear by this point, I loved Stringers. It’s playful in its narrative approach, it’s stuffed full of loveable characters and wonderfully constructed relationships, and its humour is perfectly pitched. On top of that, it has some very cool ideas about the nature of existence, and manages to build up to a climactic finish worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. A big hearted work of fertile imagination.Full review by Ollie Kirrage at Infinite Speculation
Consistently funny, Stringers is wonderfully written and elegantly put together. I found myself cursing the author’s talents as I read it, so jealous am I. The turn at the end – of which I will say no more – was wonderfully handled, full of pathos and so right for the story. Definitely one to look out for when it’s released next year.Robin Triggs
The nitty-gritty: Full of effortless humor, imaginative world-building, and complex characters, Stringers is a smart, bold sci-fi adventure—with pickles.
Stringers is a wacky, irreverent, mad-cap sci-fi adventure that falls firmly into the “absurd” category of speculative fiction. And while “wacky” and “absurd” aren’t usually elements that work for me, Stringers has a lot more to offer readers. It’s clever as hell, and hysterically funny too. And yes, it also tugged at my heartstrings, especially at the end…Panatier’s writing was so good, full of clever moments that I wish I saw more of in fiction, to be honest.Read the full review at BooksBonesBuffy
I fear I may run out of adjectives to describe this extravagantly bonkers yet deeply profound book by the end of this review…“Stringers” is incredibly easy to read and the plot moves at a satisfying pace that never becomes boring, with moments of great poignancy on the theme of friendship. Fresh and inventive, “Stringers” is naughty, sweary, heartbreaking and brilliant – with great big dollops of nerdiness, pop culture references and sexy alien tech. If you’ve ever argued about an episode of Blake’s 7 in a comic shop, “Stringers” is the book you need right now.Read the full review at Kid Ferrous Reviews
Aside from having the brightest covers in the SFF game (check out Panatier’s first novel The Phlebotomist as well), Chris Panatier has quickly made a name for himself with quirky, well-researched, abnormal (in the best way) throught-provoking SF. Panatier’s characters are vivid and feel genuine to their settings; too often non-humans end up just reading like re-skinned humans, but he’s been able to capture and express that other-ness to differentiate amongst his protagonists. Beyond the characters, Panatier has developed and explored a fascinating system of memory and thought that, as a driving force in the universe of Stringers, works both as a plot-driver and as a intriguing thought experiment. He’s also not afraid to toss a little humor into his work, both being willing to go weird (bug dongs spot the landscape as footnotes) but also injecting a little meta-humor with a call out to an author friend. It’s tricky to combine the strange and unique into a gripping, wonderful SFF story that still retains its humanity, but Chris Panatier’s Stringers is a resounding success. Plus, there are pickles.Review from Bookblurbalmostdaily
WHAT A TREAT!! Taxidermied sex mannequins, magic shrooms, fart jokes, clocks, spaceships, bounty hunters, stoners, a black hole, aliens, never-ending bug facts & a jar of pickles. Panatier layers the absurd, humor & intelligence into ridiculously inventive storytelling that is also quite profound. Many feels were had!Read the Full Review @the_grimdragon on instagram
Comedy combined with Science Fiction is rare because it is so hard to do. When it clicks though it is worthwhile as you get some absolute classics such as Red Dwarf or Hitchhiker’s. Those are mighty large shoes to try and fill, but Chris Panatier is giving it a go in Stringers, a book that feels like it may be the offspring of Douglas Adams’ classic series of books but remains true to itself with its darker tone. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll read about someone pooping via a tube…
It can aptly call itself a sci fi comedy, but the tone is far darker than you may think. The stakes are high and Panatier has no issues making the reader know this. Both Ben and Patton must go through some troubling times to succeed and not all the crew are guaranteed to make the end of the book. This darkness gives Stringers its distinctive style and makes it quite unlike anything I have read in the past, which is always a refreshing discovery.Sam Tyler with SFBook Reviews
Stringers is a gloriously eccentric mixture of elements, yet somehow Panatier manages to shape it into a compelling, coherent whole. And for all its gonzo fun, it’s a novel of real heart that is unafraid of engaging with more serious ideas. Stringers is the most fun you’re likely to have with a book this year, and you’ll emerge with a host of interesting and grisly facts about insect reproduction.Read the Full Review from Jonathan Thornton at The Fantasy Hive
Tina Beier at Sound & Fury Book ReviewsTina’s Linktree
NETGALLEY EARLY RETURNS
Panatier has written a fun, humorous, fast paced, space opera romp! Serious and poignant but also equally light and airy, Panatier’s writing style is easy to get lost in. like the best of ‘fish out of water’ sci-fi protagonists (in this case Ben is abducted) the reader learns the ins and out of the galaxy with Ben.
The plot seems straightforward but quickly becomes very complex but not overly so, being doled out at a good pace. All the characters are likeable and quite diverse, and the new worlds, starships, aliens’ descriptions are very vivid. There are several perfect ‘needle drop’ moments where chris picked out the perfect song to accompany a scene, with the last one being so perfectly described it was like i was watching it play out on screen. One con are several chapters from Ben’s perspective the footnotes get out of control – it makes sense in the story but I felt often the onslaught of footnotes distracted from the narrative flow. Later in the book where they are spread out or are more funny than factoids I liked much better.Netgalley Reviewer Sam V.
Does it all…
One blurb for this book promises “humor, action, and a memorable cast of characters”. Mission accomplished.
The humor runs from fart jokes to subtle wordplay, edgy throwaways, and deadpan humor. The action is space opera-y, but often with tongue in cheek. Except sometimes it’s cool, and clever, and high-tech in a convincing science-garble fashion. As to the memorable cast, our two heroes have surprising depth and appeal, and the book is long enough to allow the reader to see them and appreciate them from a number of different angles. Our heroine space-pipefitter is the strong and silent type who brings an appropriate level of hard-boiled competence to the project. The aliens are all over the place, but the Stringer hunter who kidnaps our heroes is a stone cold hoot, and steals every page he’s on.
There’s a lot going on here, but it’s handy and helpful that there’s a bit of monologuing by the kidnapper early on that explains Stringers, explains what’s happened, and pretty much lays out the roadmap for what’s going to happen. That’s swell, because there are lots of clever twists and turns and wrinkles to the tale, and the author saves the reader from too much head scratching about what’s going on.
So, I got a kick out of this. Space opera humor is very, very hard to pull off, and this book aced the task, and even offered lots of graceful little side bits and digressions that made the whole project very satisfying.Netgalley reviewer Joel S.
Here’s the spine and cover!!!