Anyone who has been in my house can tell you that I (and my family) love books so much that we don't have a living room, we have a library. Some of my most prized possessions on those shelves are books by authors I have come to know and love. Foremost among those being the Cybil Lewis series. I love Cybil because I recognize so much of myself in her. Today I thought I'd share some of the reasons why I love Cybil so much, and why I think you will too.
10. Female Protagonist
Being the geeky little girl who always had to settle for male heroes to idolize, adulthood has spoiled me. Between Starbuck, The Doctor, and Abby Yates, I've come to enjoy female leads and actively seek them in fiction. And unlike some other female characters who are males in disguise, Cybil is still female. She may engage in a lot of behaviours traditionally viewed as belonging to the male gender, but she does so while retaining her femininity.
9. Witty Narration
As a Slytherin with a Ravenclaw moon, witty narration is the fastest way to win my heart. Cybil is capable of all the wisecracking smartassery my snarky little heart could desire.
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... well, I might shoot you."
Ever since AP English, I've been obsessed with the rhythm that alliteration lends to passages. The first time I ever read a Cybil Lewis novel, there was a sentence about the "privileged protecting their pumpkins" which was so good it gave me goosebumps because of its evocative and descriptive power.
Cybil Lewis lives in a future reality where the United States has fallen apart in the aftermath of one (or several) disasters and is now a set of loosely associated territories. Cybil lives and operates in the area formerly known as Washington D.C. — The District.
6. Complex Characters
People are rarely simple. The thing that intrigues me most about psychology, is the power to understand another person's perspective. Cybil's world is populated by people who are people — neither wholly good nor wholly bad. Even Cybil herself, though she is the protagonist, makes mistakes. There is a level of honest humanity present in every character, even those whom the other characters consider less than human.
5. Heart-stirring Stories
Many of the people who walk into Cybil's office (and many of those whose death brings them across her desk) have backstories that break your heart. From cyborg soldiers with PTSD who don't know how to grieve properly to lab-grown humans seeking the identity of their genetic donors, the answers are never easy.
4. Emotional Intelligence
Even when confronted with a biomechanical adversary who might snap and kill her, Cybil is cognizant of the emotional and psychological wellbeing of those around her and very often able to diffuse a tense situation through her masterful use of compassion and psychology. Having a back seat in the mind of a protagonist whose emotional intelligence is so high is a pleasure.
3. Bruce Lee
As a Bruce Lee fan myself, reading about a future where my hero is still idolized created a tangible link between Cybil and myself. Much like meeting another fan in real life, Cybil's love of Bruce Lee cemented my instant connection with her. There's something reassuringly real about a protagonist who gets stressed out by adulting and needs a beer and Bruce Lee flick to calm down.
2. Post Apocalyptic America
Between advances in technology and the current socio-economic-political climate, I often feel like a character in Philip K. Dick novel. As a result, Cybil's future feels more real and possible than ever, and witnessing her reactions to it is incredibly satisfying.
1. Classic Sci-Fi Social Commentary
Couched between the technology, action, and intrigue is the sort of social commentary that is key to classic Sci-Fi stories. Cybil is very often pitted against some of the more problematic aspects of her society and has to find her own moral compass and ways of dealing with the issues.
"Since the demise of a more centralized government, currency, healthcare - hell, everything - had evaporated. My grandmother told me tales of how life once existed, before the war. How the United States, a big dog on a global block of many, held the world and its allies in its open paw. Some time or another that paw closed into a fist and people suffered more than they
ever thought possible. And it wasn’t all foreigners."
If you haven't read the entire Cybil Lewis series, now's a great time to do so! Mocha Memoirs Press is offering a holiday bundle deal on all three novels and the recently released short story collection. The fourth book will be out next year! AND, the short story collection has comic book illustrations! Squee!