Michael Underwood’s Genrenauts and Geekomancers


Michael Underwood

By Carl Slaughter: If you see Michael Underwood at a con, he might be there as a prolific author of comedy fantasy books or he might be there as North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books. Underwood has a B.A. in creative mythology and East Asian studies and a M.A. in folklore studies. He is a Clarion graduate. He is part of the Hugo nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show.

The first novel in his Geekomancy series was published by Pocket Books. The first two episodes in his Genrenauts series, The Shootout Solution and The Absconded Ambassador, were published by Tor. The last episode, a two-parter, The Failed Fellowship, came out in October. The first season collection also came out in October.

Mary Robinette Kowal narrates the audio version of all of Michael Underwood’s stories.



Struggling stand-up comic Leah Tang is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join the Genrenauts, a secret organization of dimensional travelers. Leah learns that our world is just one of many, and every other world is the home of a story genre — Science Fiction or Romance, Fantasy or Western — populated by archetypal characters and constantly playing out familiar stories.

The Genrenauts’ mission: find and fix broken stories. If they fail, the ripples from the story worlds will cause havoc and devastation on their home world.

Leah joins the team and dives head-first into the adventure. But the stories are breaking faster and worse than ever before. Will Leah rise to the occasion, or will she end up as just another broken story?



Rookie genrenaut Leah Tang gets her first taste of space flight when the team scrambles to fix a story breach in Science Fiction World, the domain of star ships, weird aliens, and galactic intrigue.

On the space station Ahura-3, Ambassador Kaylin Reed is on the verge of securing a peace treaty to guarantee the end of hostilities between some of the galaxy’s most ferocious races. When Ambassador Reed is kidnapped the morning before the signing, it throws the station into chaos.

So now it’s up to Leah and her team to save the day and put the story to rights.

At any cost.



Wounded Genrenaut Mallery York returns to active duty just in time for the team to be deployed to the Rom-Com region of the Romance world. There, everyone is beautiful, office workers can afford palatial midtown apartments, and hearts are won and broken on every corner.

But before they can fix the broken love story, they have to find it. Mallery takes the lead, bringing her expertise to bear and leading Leah to wonder whether there’s a space for her on the team now that Mallery is back.

The team scours dating sites, cocktail bars, and jogging paths looking for the right pair of lovers to reconnect before time runs out and the ripples from the story breach lay waste to romance back on Earth.



It was supposed to be a simple training mission in the Police Procedural region of Crime World. But there’s always a twist – when the precinct’s favorite wacky private eye is shot, Leah and King must fill the shoes of Odd Couple Detectives to investigate a pair of nested mysteries.

Leah and King work against the clock to fix the breach before falling too deep into their respective roles and losing themselves to the story. And there’s more going on here than a simple crime of passion…



The team travels to Traditional Fantasy-land where the prophesied hero has died just before his moment of triumph. The Genrenauts take on the roles of Wizard, Paladin, Fighter, Bard, and more to stop the Night-Lord before his arcane power brings about an eternal night of terror.



Team lead Angstrom King gears up to ride the beaten roads of the Post-Apocalyptic region of Action world and finds a group of survivors bereft of their hero. King steps in to the role of “The Max” in order to guide the survivors safely home to their enclave with much-needed supplies.  A short story in the Genrenauts universe.





Ree Reyes’s life was easier when all she had to worry about was scraping together tips from her gig as a barista and comic shop slave to pursue her ambitions as a screenwriter.

When a scruffy-looking guy storms into the shop looking for a comic like his life depends on it, Ree writes it off as just another day in the land of the geeks. Until a gigantic “BOOM!” echoes from the alley a minute later, and Ree follows the rabbit hole down into her town’s magical flip-side. Here, astral cowboy hackers fight trolls, rubber-suited werewolves, and elegant Gothic Lolita witches while wielding nostalgia-powered props.

Ree joins Eastwood (aka Scruffy Guy), investigating a mysterious string of teen suicides as she tries to recover from her own drag-your-heart-through-jagged-glass breakup. But as she digs deeper, Ree discovers Eastwood may not be the knight-in-cardboard armor she thought. Will Ree be able to stop the suicides, save Eastwood from himself, and somehow keep her job?



Fame has a magic all its own in the no-gossip-barred follow-up to Geekomancy. Ree Reyes gets her big screenwriting break, only to discover just how broken Hollywood actually is.

Things are looking up for urban fantasista Ree Reyes. She’s using her love of pop culture to fight monsters and protect her hometown as a Geekomancer, and now a real-live production company is shooting her television pilot script.

But nothing is easy in show business. When an invisible figure attacks the leading lady of the show, former child-star-turned-current-hot-mess Jane Konrad, Ree begins a school-of-hard-knocks education in the power of Celebromancy.

Attempting to help Jane Geekomancy-style with Jedi mind tricks and X-Men infiltration techniques, Ree learns more about movie magic than she ever intended. She also learns that real life has the craziest plots: not only must she lift a Hollywood-strength curse, but she needs to save her pilot, negotiate a bizarre love rhombus, and fight monsters straight out of the silver screen. All this without anyone getting killed or, worse, banished to the D-List.



Ree Reyes, urban fantasista and Geekomancer extraordinaire, is working her regular drink-slinger shift at Grognard’s bar-and-gaming salon when everything goes wrong. The assorted magic wielders of the city’s underground have come to test their battle skills via RPGs like D&D, V:TES, White Wolf, and the like. All the usuals are there: her ex-mentor Eastwood, Drake (the man-out-of-time adventurer), and, of course, Grognard himself (her boss and a brewer of beer that act as magic potions). However, it’s the presence of these and other “usuals” that makes all the trouble.

A nemesis from Eastwood and Ree’s past decides to finally take her revenge not just on those two, but on every self-styled “hero” in the city who happens to have crossed her at one point or another. When wave after wave of monsters besiege Grogrnard’s store, if Ree & Co. are going to survive, they’re going to have to work together. And avoid the minotaur. That’s always a good rule of thumb.



When Ree’s long time nemesis Lucretia is finally brought to trial and found guilty for the deadly attack on Grognard’s, the Geekomancer community breathes a collective sigh of relief. But Ree and her crew soon discover that Lucretia has three very angry, very dangerous sisters who won’t rest until Eastwood—a fellow Geekomancer—is killed.

What follows is an adventure packed with epic battles, a bit of romance, and enough geeky  moments to fill your monthly quota of adventure and fun.

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5 thoughts on “Michael Underwood’s Genrenauts and Geekomancers

  1. I keep seeing mention of Genrenauts, and… and I’m sorry to say it, but I just find it soooo unappealing.

    I feel like I’m way beyond maxed-out on self-aware genre pastiches. I feel like my life is already so full of snarky deconstructions and analyses and top-ten lists, and those are fine, but it kind of takes the edge off of fiction that’s kind of exactly that, except in the form of a novel.

    This sounds so, so very much in the same vein as Fforde’s Thursday Next books, or Scalzi’s Redshirts. It seems like the style and the sense of humor will be very much the same.
    I did enjoy Thursday Next, but honestly the first one would have been enough for me – after that it started wearing thin, substituting nonsense for substance. The first one really earned its literature-obsessed world, with door-to-door Baconites, but after that… neh.
    And Redshirts… ugh. I did not get along with Redshirts. It felt like somebody novelized one of those “Top Ten Ways To Tell You’re On Star Trek” lists that you’d see forwarded all the time in the ’90s.

    It’s just… it’s a style of fiction that gets by on listing things that fiction usually does wrong. If that’s one element amongst many, then that can be fantastic – Terry Pratchett wrote incredible fiction by subverting the hell out of every trope in the book. And in doing that, he created magnificent characters and stories, rich and memorable.
    But if trope-awareness is all the book is about, if it’s the only selling point… Well, for myself, I find that mostly shallow and thoroughly exhausted.

    I’m sure there are lots of readers who love the style, and adore Genrenauts, and I wish them and Mr. Underwood the very best. Tastes differ, and I’m a tough reader to please 🙂 But then, for those of us who are irked by this stuff, so I hope it’s not amiss for me to say, every now and then, a personal little “You know, I’m kind of sick of this stuff.”

  2. @Standback

    I enjoyed Thursday Next (and Redshirts), and I bailed on Genrenauts for pretty similar reasons.

    OTOH, Underwood has an excellent story in Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling, so I intend to check out some of his other work.

  3. For those who aren’t into the meta-humor of Genrenauts and Geekomancy, Mike does write other stuff (e.g. Sword and Crocus, which is a New Weird superhero novel).


    Shield and Crocus was totally not my thing, I started it but quickly DNF’ed (but if you’re into superheroes and comic books, it might be yours). Genrenauts does not sound appealing to me at all.

    But I’ve read all the Geekomancy stories, and I quite enjoyed them — and I’m not a gamer. If you’re into RPGs, I think you’d really enjoy these.

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