×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Flex
     

Flex

5.0 7
by Ferrett Steinmetz
 

See All Formats & Editions

FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.

FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t

Overview

FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.

FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.

PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.

But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Magic Pill | Firestarter | Bureaucramancy | The Flex & the Flux ]

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Do you like magic? Do you like drugs? Donut-based psychological theories? Video games? Do you like PAPERWORK!? Read this book!”
- Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice and winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke Awards

Flex is a real gem – sharp, weird, and wildly innovative. It zigs when you think it’ll zag, then tricks you into screaming when you’re ready to laugh out loud. So drop everything and settle in for the night – because once you open this one, you’re not going anywhere.”
– Cherie Priest, author of Boneshaker, winner of the Locus Award for Best Novel and the PNBA Award, and nominated for a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award.

“Big ideas, epic thrills, and an unlikely paper-pushing hero you’ll never forget. Just when you think you know what’s next, the book levels up spectacularly.”
– John Scott Tynes, author of Delta Green: Strange Authorities

“Amazing. I have literally never read a book like this. Read this NOW, if only to be forced to turn the page wondering what the hell Steinmetz is going to come up with next.”
– Mur Lafferty, Campbell award-winning “Best New Writer 2013” and author of The Shambling Guide to New York

“Featuring one of the most original magic systems ever devised and a pair of likable, layered protagonists, Flex is a fast-paced, imaginative, and emotionally engaging adventure. The developing friendships and rapport among the characters are portrayed with sensitivity and avoids cliches, and the magical battle sequences are rigorous and filled with ingenious touches that will make gamers and tax lawyers alike grin with joy.”
– Ken Liu, winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards

Flex is hot, inventive, and exciting.  A real joyride of a story … a whole new kind of magic and a whole new ballgame. Totally recommended.”
– Seanan McGuire, winner of the John W. Campbell Award and Hugo-nominated author

Flex is a breath of magical, drug-addled, emotionally tortured fresh air, with one of the most unique and fascinating main characters I’ve read in ages. In an urban fantasy genre filled with handsome vampires and sassy witches, Ferrett presents us with Paul Tsabo – a Greek insurance adjuster with a prosthetic foot, forced into the half-mad underworld of a reality-bending narcotic to save his daughter from a devastating house fire. With great characters, evocative writing, and boundless creativity, Flex is one of the strongest debut novels I’ve ever seen, and one of my favorite novels of the year.”
– Dan Wells, author of I Am Not a Serial Killer

“Half part Breaking Bad and half part urban fantasy, Flex is an enthusiastic romp through a world of ingenious magic accessed by geeky, obsessive projection. Tremendously entertaining rule-tinkering and loophole-hunts abound. A terrific read.”
– Robert Jackson Bennett, author of American Elsewhere

“Not since Philip K Dick started toying with reality for fun and profit has there been a novel so enjoyably hallucinatory as Flex.  A heady mix of the surreal and the mundane, it will appeal to fans of video games, donuts, insurance, bureaucracy and crime families.  Oh, and modern day mage wars. Yet for all of its wild plot, this is a story about the tender bond between parents and children, the loyalty of friends and how the odd among us find their places in the world. Ferrett Steinmetz has written a page turner!”
– James Patrick Kelly, winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards

“When we think of magic users in fiction, we tend to think of magicians like Dumbledore or Gandalf: wise, old graybeards whose professorial robes invoke their deep education into occult arcana. They are cool, collected practitioners of their arts. Even less establishment sorcerers tend to have a sheen of coolness about them; think of Kate Daniels or Harry Dresden, swathed in black, working as mercenaries or detectives, out in the thick of it. Which is why it is so utterly charming to meet Paul Tsabo in Flex, the debut novel from Ferrett Steinmetz”.
– Barnes & Noble

“A well-paced, sometimes serious, sometimes zany mission to save the world from a mass murderer, with some moral dilemmas mixed in for spice, Flex was an enjoyable read that ended up somewhere close to Breaking Bad by way of Scott Pilgrim versus the World. [4 1/2 stars]”
– Speculative Post

“Ferrett takes the “people learn how to do magic, will they use it for good or ill?” question and blows it right open, exposing the soft underbelly of a society that first resorts to fear and violence when faced with something they don’t understand.  And I fricken’ loved every word of it.  The magic is weird and soul-crushingly expensive, the characters are fantastic, the stakes are high, and the story is intimate. That my friends, is what I’m always looking for. Ferrett Steinmetz? the guy is a Wordmancer.”
– Little Red Reviewer

“This book made me miss almost my tube-stop several times… You all should read this book!”
– Reading the Thing

“This world is amazing – just the idea that an obsession can bend reality enough to create magic is a brilliant one…The idea on its own brings something fresh to urban fantasy, and was enough on its own to draw me into the book. Steinmetz brings something new and fresh to the genre.”
– Stephanie Gunn, writer for ASIF and judge of the Australian Shadows Awards

Flex was an absolute delight to read, and my only real lament is that I can’t cast some bureaucromancy of my own to conjure up the sequel right friggin’ now”.
– Michael Patrick Hicks, author of Convergence and Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarterfinalist

“The writing is tight, the plot intense, and the story wonderfully creative. Definitely a book for those who enjoy strong visuals and who want a book that inspires creative questioning, introspection, and who like a little wondering about the relation between reality and ourselves. Highly recommended for obsessive folks like myself!”
– Bibliotropic

“This is one of those books that just hit me perfectly.”
– Bookaneer

“I loved Flex. All the thumbs up and all the stars checked.”
– I, Fat Robot

“While there’s a lot of urban fantasy out there, I think Flex might be the one I’ve read that best captures the spirit of the real world. It’s part Breaking Bad, part social commentary and part magical tale with all of the confusion and ambiguity of our times.”
– The Royal Library, Hall of the Mountain King

“Just don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a shallow, just for thrills book. There is more there than just a surface level action story. The very nature of how abilities manifest, the fact that ‘mancers tend to be lonely people with some sort of problems in their life, the cost of the magic, the balance of flex and flux, and the stigma of being ‘mancer in a society where magic is feared and loathed, all of these things speak at a deeper level if the reader chooses to go there. Flex is raw magic with a deep soul. Highly recommend.”
– Tenacious Reader

“Pick this book up, people.  Highly recommended.”
– Ideatrash

“I have no hesitation in recommending this book.  I don’t have any criticisms.  In fact I can’t conceive of anybody not liking it. I want more”.
– Lynn’s Book Blog

“I don’t like using exclamation points, but this book deserves all the exclamation points.  Look, here’s a whole bag!  They are to be placed after the words Flex and awesome whenever they appear! Flex! Awesome! Flex! Awesome! Flex!  You get the idea. The book’s pacing was just right, the information drip satisfyingly steady but with enough mystery to keep me reading.  I wanted to find out who would do what and how.  I wanted to know who was going to win.  I wanted to know about motivations.  I wanted to see some more video game magic.  I wanted to read it whenever I had time. If I end up writing a list of my ten favorite books from my last five year’s reading, this book is probably going to be on it”.
– Book Punks

“All and all, it’s one of the more original urban fantasty titles I’ve read in ages and it actually seems to be a stand-alone novel which is always a plus. If you’re looking for a new read, and want something different, give this a look”.
– Fantasy Findings

“Such a cool concept.  The magic and rules at play make sense and the author doesn’t cheat just to get the characters out of a difficult situation.  The idea of there being consequences to the magic – a balance that must be maintained—that’s very, very cool stuff”.
– Eviscerating Pen

“I started reading it, and I couldn’t stop. The writing is excellent, the premise unique, and the action feels almost non-stop.”
– Sci-Fi & Scary Book Reviews

“This magic filled thriller gives you a touch of Breaking Bad while delivering an urban high fantasy.  Fast paced and high tension, Flex makes for an engaging read.”
– Libromancer’s Apprentice

Flex is an urban fantasy with a number of unique elements that should make it flare brightly in a crowded subgenre.”
– SFF World

“I am always on the look out for the next thing in fantasy and Ferrett Steinmetz’ Flexcompletely lives up to this promise. It’s fresh, it’s exciting and it’s a whole lot of fun to read.”
– The Book Plank

Flex is classified, in terms of genre, as “urban fantasy” rather than “science fiction”; but in fact it does what the best science fiction does. It extrapolates from actually existing conditions (in this case, those of neoliberal subjectivity) by proposing a novum, or a potentiality, that already exists in these conditions under the form of a haunting futurity: something that, in the words that Deleuze borrows from Proust, is “real but not actual”.”
– Pinocchio Theory

Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz may have the most unique fantasy voice I have ever read. There’s action, humor, and unique ideas I found myself devouring as fast as I could. At first glance, Tsabo’s magic power—bureaucracy—seems boring and sterile. But the way he utilizes his powers, is both refreshing and hilarious.”
– Geekin’ Things

“Flex
 is a clever, funny twist on both the urban fantasy genre overpopulated by werewolves, vampires and hard-boiled sorcerers. But it is also a wonderful deconstruction of the Breaking Bad story of the good man driven to evil by necessity and megalomania, because while Tsabo’s story has a similar genesis as Walter White’s he never becomes Heisenberg.”
– Relentless Reading

“Flex 
is a weird, funny alternative to a crowded urban fantasy field overpopulated with vampires, werewolves and wizards-for-hire.”
– The Nameless Zine

“I don’t think think it’d be an overstatement to say that Flex delivers everything I wanted in a novel: action, geekery, realism, and fun. Trust me, you’ll be missing out if you don’t enjoy this must-read.”
– Literary Escapism

Flex was an instant hit with me. Obsessions that turn you into a magic mancer based on your obsession!? – How cool is that? Turns out not so cool for the mancers because all the things they do come with a nasty blowback that tends to destroy the things they care about. So why keep using your magic? Well because you’re obsessed. Whatever your obsession is it, video games, fire, art, pencil pushing paperwork, death metal music. It was so much freaking fun to watch the way these obsessions turned people into mancers. Ooo I want to go on and on and tell you the cool things but I can’t…cause that would spoil your fun.”
– Not Yet Read

“This one-of-a-kind series (which saw two installments released this year) is what might result if you put Breaking Bad and Reddit in a blender and hit “frappe.””
– Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi Blog

“Flex demonstrated for me a great technique for creating that reader-to-character connection.”
– David Vonallmen

“I couldn’t put this book down. I loved this take on magic-this world of ‘Mancers.”
– Black Girl Nerds

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780857664600
Publisher:
Watkins Media
Publication date:
03/03/2015
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
348,599
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.40(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Ferrett Steinmetz is a graduate of both the Clarion Writers' Workshop and Viable Paradise, and has been nominated for the Nebula Award, for which he remains stoked.

Ferrett has a moderately popular blog, The Watchtower of Destruction, wherein he talks about bad puns, relationships, politics, videogames, and more bad puns. He's written four computer books, including the still-popular-after-two-years Wicked Cool PHP.

He lives in Cleveland with his wife, who he couldn't imagine living without.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Flex 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Steven_Saus More than 1 year ago
The promo copy promises a mix of The Dresden Files and Breaking Bad. This is not wrong, and if that's enough to get you interested in the book, go get that sucker right now. But let me tell you: You'll find more. There's some pretty deep and intense themes in this book, but Ferrett does something pretty awesome: They're not the reason for the book. Let me explain. Flex works as a great urban fantasy story, with solid worldbuilding and a unique (as far as I know) system of magic. It's fast-paced, full of twists and turns, and a fun read. But while giving us this action-filled romp, Ferrett's characters also have to deal with some pretty cool concepts and hard topics and emotions... and do so naturally, without smacking you with it upside the head. The man makes bureaucracy look cool, people. So while the main plot of the story is worth picking up a copy on its own, the underlying concepts that give it a smart and rich conceptual playground for the characters make this book stand above the pack. Pick this book up, people. Highly recommended.
J_Carroll More than 1 year ago
This was one of the more enjoyable books that I've read in a while. Engaging characters, interesting concept, and a pretty thrilling plot. The villain could have used a little more back story, I think - the motivation was clear, but the character wasn't as fully realized as most others. That's a very minor nit, though - I highly recommend this book, and hope this is the beginning of a series! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked up the sample, hit the end of my thirteen pages, and I didn't even hesitate. I bought this and proceeded to read it until it was over. It took until one in the morning. It was completely worth it. This book is fantastic. I haven't been this enraptured by a book since... I don't even know. My first time in the Back Company? I highly recommend this. It is fantastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most interesting book I have read in quite a while, Extremely well written; tightly plotted with well developed characters.
The_Dragons_Roost More than 1 year ago
Yet another example of a brilliant idea with an equally brilliant payoff. Welcome to a world where people's obsessions can turn into a gateway to perform physics bending magic, where magic can be distilled into a drug, a world where everything has its price. It is possible to flex the world around you, but the harder you push the laws of physics, the harder they push back. In this world, ex-cop and current insurance claim investigator Paul Tsabo learns that his own love of the laws of paperwork and rules have changed him into a person who can use said paperwork to rewrite the world. He, with the help of a video game obsessed 'mancer named Valentine, seek out the worst magical scourge that NYC has ever faced. Somewhere out there is another 'mancer who is the antithesis of Paul, someone who wants to tear down the rules which hold up modern society. Can he and Valentine weave their way through a maze of drug dealers, government agents, and a society who fears them because of their capabilities to bring down this rouge 'mancer -- all without the flux from their magic destroying everything and everyone they love? A masterfully written book, thought provoking and nail-biting at the same time, all with the dash of humor we would expect from author Ferrett Steinmetz. Do yourself a favor, buy this book and its sequel at the same time. You won't want to waste time in between reads.
SlayerMom More than 1 year ago
Wow. I was sorry when the book ended. I started it because of the author, kept going because of the story, and finished thinking deeply about the implications. Well written and fun, while also intriguing and powerful. Impressive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago