Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro: A Very Strange SF Romp

Finders Keepers: The Definitive EditionFinders Keepers: The Definitive Edition

by Russ Colchamiro
Series: Finders Keepers, #1

Kindle Edition, 310 pg.
Crazy 8 Press, 2018

Read: January 4 – 7, 2019


This is a very strange ride. That might be the most important thing to take away from my experience with this book. Strange is good, strange is unique, strange is the kind of thing you can only read here (well, you can read strange SF in other places, too, but they won’t be this kind of strange).

That doesn’t tell you a lot, though, does it? This is the story of two twenty-something guys (one from the US, one from New Zealand) backpacking their way around Europe. It’s the story of a young woman, an artist trying to escape from something, and her life-changing interactions with those two guys. It’s also the story of a young couple, trying to better their station in life, who might have taken on a job they shouldn’t have — and their tragic blunder in the middle of carrying out that job which just might ruin their lives. There’s also the woman whose ambition and slip-of-judgement that has led to her fall into disrepute and her loyal assistant as they try to stage a comeback. Oh, yeah, and there’s Ira and Howard — a dolphin and a whale — who are basically the sea mammal answer to Cheech and Chong.

Jason’s waiting tables at a small restaurant, putting off getting a teaching job, because he’s just not ready to take that step, when one of his customers inspires him to head to Europe for a while. This was a huge mistake — he’s unprepared for anything, the fact that he’s not robbed blind by the first slightly crooked person he meets in any country is a wonder. He eventually runs into Theo Barnes, who’s only a moderately better traveler. He’s on a quest — the exact nature of which I’ll leave to you — but Ira and Howard gave him some pretty specific directions. Primarily, these two do what backpacking twenty-something males do: the drink a lot, they chase girls, the drink some more, they get lost in Europe, and drink to excess.

I’m going to pass on explaining how the others I mentioned get into the story — there’s a lot of complicated explanation — that makes perfect sense in Colchamiro’s narration, but wouldn’t quite work in my summary. But most of the other people in the book aren’t human — they’re a different form of life who are responsible, in one way or another, for the construction of Galaxies, Star Systems and Planets — most notably, they’re all involved in the creation of our solar system. And all of them have done something horribly wrong (inadvertently or otherwise) and all are in the middle of crazy, elaborate plans to regain their status. Colchamiro tells us about their falls and their various efforts to fix things while we watch Jason and Theo binge drink their way around Europe.

I’m honestly not sure if that paragraph made much sense — I bet if you’ve read the book, it does.

What surprised me about the book wasn’t the strange antics these pairs got into — but that Colchamiro works a lot of heart and some pretty serious emotional arcs into the zaniness. He does so in a way that doesn’t seem forced, it doesn’t seem like he’s taking a break from the outrageous actions to have a heartfelt moment, or anything — but he seamlessly merges personal growth, insight or complex emotions into the same scenes as a talking dolphin or biker gang interrupting a son introducing his girlfriend to his mother.

There was a time back in the 90’s or so where it seemed that not a week could go by without someone on a sit-com ask the clarifying question: “Did you mean funny ‘ha ha,’ for funny ‘peculiar/strange/odd’?” I thought of that frequently while reading this book — and once I abandoned the idea of this book being “funny ‘ha-ha,'” and instead embraced the strange, the absurd, the idiosyncratic peculiarity of Finders Keepers, I enjoyed it a lot more. I’m not saying that there aren’t funny moments, and it’s definitely not a serious work — it’s a fun, goofy, and strange SF adventure, which we need more of. I just don’t think I laughed or chuckled all that much.

That said, do I encourage you to read it? Oh yeah. Am I curious about what the next two installments of this trilogy might bring? Oh yeah. And I fully intend on finding out as soon as I can. I wager if you spend some time with this particular batch of oddballs you’ll be as curious as I am — yet pleased that you spent this much time with them. It’s a great mix of heart, oddball characters, youthful indiscretions, and wisdom that time and suffering can only bring — all in one goofy adventure.

—–

3.5 Stars

My thanks to iREAD Book Tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided, including a copy of the novel.

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A Few (more) Quick Questions With…Russ Colchamiro

Russ Colchamiro came back for round 2 — and I’m very happy about that. I hope you enjoy this:

Tell us a little about your road to publication.
Finders Keepers is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar of the Universe’s DNA. Very much in the spirit of The Good Place, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

It original published in 2010, and got great notices, including in Publishers Weekly. As part of the launch—it was my debut novel—I landed a national distribution contract, with Finders Keepers on the shelves in 20 or so Barnes & Nobles throughout the U.S.

About a year ago I had a hankering to revisit the guys and see if it stood the test of time. Seeing how I could improve upon the original, I was inspired to write Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition. It’s 15,000 words shorter than the original, with tighter pacing, some new content, and a few characters I reimagined to better match how I always intended them. This new, updated novel is indeed the final version. This is it!

In the Author’s Note you talked about your reasons for this new version of the novel, and how you cut a good deal of the original text. Talk to me about the process of revising — how painful was it to cut anything? What was it like to look back at an almost decade-old work with a critical eye?
It was trippy to go back and look at the manuscript with fresh eyes. Certain scenes were painful to cut because I loved them, as individual scenes, but I needed to serve the story, and keep the pacing as tight and lean as possible. The biggest change, where I had to take a humble, was some of the language. The original version was a bit raunchy, but as the series evolved, and as I evolved as a writer, I accepted that some of the sex comedy elements were distracting from the overall adventure. So I cut virtually every F-bomb, toned down some of the sex elements, and ultimately made it friendlier and more accessible for a wider audience. Consider the original as the Raw & Uncensored Edition, with an ‘R’ rating, whereas The Definitive Edition is ‘PG-13’.
I’m admittedly late to the Finders Keepers party — what kind of feedback have you received from readers who showed up earlier to the trilogy to The Definitive Edition? Anything surprising about the reaction (hopefully positive surprises, but I’ve been online long enough to not know to assume that)?
All of the feedback I’ve gotten is extremely positive. Finders Keepers is a 3-book series— Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza. The Definitive Edition much more closely matches the tone, length, and style of Genius de Milo and Astropalooza, so the entire trilogy feels much more like one cohesive adventure. I’m incredibly happy with the way it turned out.
Last time we talked, we spent some time talking about Finders Keepers when we were supposed to be talking about Angela Hardwicke and the anthology she was in. It’s time for some payback — talk a little about Angela — her tie to these books and her future.
Angela Hardwicke is my hard-boiled private eye, who briefly showed up in Genius de Milo with a much bigger role in Astropalooza. I’ve since written a few short Hardwicke mysteries in Crazy 8 Press anthologies. The biggest news is that I’ve also written the first draft of my first Hardwicke novel. I’ll be doing revisions over the next few months, with plans to publish either this year or in 2020. After that I plan to write Angela Hardwicke mysteries for years to come as an ongoing series. I’m not supposed to pick favorites, but Hardwicke I’ve never had more fun as an author than with Angela Hardwicke.
You’ve said Finders Keepers is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips you took through Europe and New Zealand. What inspired you to turn those adventures into a novel, and then expand it into a trilogy?
I know its cliché that a trip was life-changing, but in my case, it happens to be true. Before I went overseas, I hadn’t traveled much, and since then I’ve been halfway around the world, and made friendships that have endured all these years. Finders Keepers and the sequels are for readers who want to go on a wild cosmic ride that will, I hope, inspire you to think a bit about the meaning of life, your place in it, and the machinations of the Universe. And, of course, leave you with a smile on your face.
Thanks for your time, and I hope that Finders Keepers meets with all kinds of success!

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro

Today I welcome the Book Tour for the very strange Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be posting a Q&A with the author (he came back for another round — the third author to do so!) and then I’ll be giving my take on the novel. Sounds like plenty of material to get to — let’s jump in. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Book Details:

Book Title: Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro
Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
Release date: October 17, 2018
Format: Paperback/ebook
Length: 310 pages
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (A few f-bombs, and mild sex scenes + some casual drinking/pot smoking)

Book Blurb:

In the spirit of The Good Place, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, author Russ Colchamiro has gone back to the future to deliver his wildest, funniest novel yet–the updated Sci-Fi/Fantasy tale Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition.

When a jar containing the Universe’s DNA falls from Eternity, bumbling backpackers Jason and Theo find their loyalties–and sanity!–put to the test. Unaware that a motley crew from another realm is chasing them across the globe to retrieve that radioactive vessel, these intrepid new friends are forced to contend with passion, responsibility, and their own mortality–and the fate of the Solar System, which hangs in the balance.

Traversing Europe, New Zealand, and the backbone of Eternity, Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition ultimately asks one simple question: Is the life you’re living the life you actually want . . . or does the Universe have more to offer than you can possibly imagine?

Book Trailer

About Russ Colchamiro:

Russ ColchamiroRuss Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space opera, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself.

Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, and Brave New Girls. Russ is repped by The Zack Company.

Russ Colchamiro’s Social Media:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Purchase Links for Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Playster ~ Kobo ~ 24symbols
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My thanks to iREAD Book Tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.