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('Mancer #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,649 ratings  ·  290 reviews
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 bureaucromanc
Paperback, 429 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Angry Robot
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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,649 ratings  ·  290 reviews

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Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommended to carol. by: Carly

Dear Ferrett,

Don't take the rating personally. It's not you--it's me. Really, there's a lot to like in your book; a parallel world with 'mancers, magic that comes out of passion, distilled magic as part of the drug trade...

Wait, not that last bit. Because while it makes absolute sense, I just don't. I don't do sloppy drug trade setting, and prefer to avoid the realistic setting in anything but Serious Movies. Maybe its because the memory of the last kid I took care of whose 'buddies' dropped him
| ARC kindly provided by Angry Robot via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you a lot! |


Flex es la historia de un padre en búsqueda de la salvación de su pequeña hija de 6 años en un mundo donde la magia puede aspirarse, causando reacciones fuertes, extremas, violentas y totalmente bizarras.

Lo cierto es que éste libro pudo haber sido muy bueno, pero la narración mató, a mi parecer, el potencial del libro. Es decir, teníamos a este personaje, Paul, al borde de la locura, metiéndose
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Okay, I loved Flex. And not least because there was some of this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

Oh and also throw in a bit of this to boot:

But wait, maybe I should back up a bit. You want to know what the story is actually about. Well, welcome to the world of Flex, where it’s actually possible to love a thing so much, the power of your obsession can kick the laws of physics in the ass so hard that reality literally comes und
Before I started reading this, I was struck by how much it appeared to be like Michael Underwood's Geekomancy, and after reading it, of course there were a few similarities, but where Geekomancy was all delightful snark and nostalgia wrapped into a wonderfully magical system, Flex was a lot more dark and serious, and...

Shall I say it? Yeah. I have to say this was the better novel of the two. Sorry, Michael! I love your stuff, but this was just too sharp!

We can scratch out most of the nostalgia a

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.

So, basically it's Breaking Bad but with MAGIC!!! Like hell I'm gonna miss this! Of course, I'm in.
Stephanie Swint
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have no complaints for this book and several compliments. There is action, humor, and it’s smart. Steinmetz created an alternate reality that includes both magic and the Affordable Health Care Act. …an interesting choice. His magic is ‘mancy. Power born from obsession and escapism. If what you love and respect above all else is rules and paperwork you become a Bureaucromancer like Paul Tsabo. A man who believes in the justice paperwork provides. Steinmetz main character is a skinny ex-cop who ...more
There’s something about urban fantasy. While scifi looks to the future and high fantasy escapes to a different realm, urban fantasy finds enchantment in the everyday and transforms it into pure magic.
And Flex takes it to a new level.
In the world that Steinmetz creates, magic is born of single-minded passion:
“‘Mancers believed so thoroughly in their obsessions that their belief wore a hole through the law of physics.”
As a result, there are gamemancers. Musclemancers. Illustromancers. Collectoma
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Molly by: Mogsy (MMOGC)
“the world was hurting us. And instead of dying inside, or hurting others, we opened up new worlds within us. And this gift… yeah, it’s scary. Yeah, it’s dangerous. But to leave it unexplored would be to throw the greatest gift anyone ever got right in the garbage.”

Rating, 3.5

You think Merlin was cool?


Forget Merlin ...


... magic has never had so many shapes and forms.

Bureaucromancy, vdeogamemancey, musclemancy, illustromancy, tell me your obsession, the possibilities are endless.... magic has
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Review from Tenacious Reader:

Reading Flex is like ingesting a solid dose of some seriously bad-ass magic. The world comes to life, possibilities that you hadn’t thought of suddenly present themselves, you find yourself immersed in words that portray a familiar, but yet much more magical world. Flex is in some ways, reminiscent of Breaking Bad with a Ready Player One slant but with an added twist all it’s own.

Our protagonist, Paul, is an interesting charac
K.J. Charles
Feb 06, 2018 marked it as pass
Shelves: dnf, fantasy
Loved the idea, wolfed down the first few chapters at a sitting, started to feel the drag in the middle, DNF at 83% because I don't feel any urge to know how it ends, which ain't good. Plot's gone completely static. A good dev edit could have fixed this, but TBH it also suffers from Ready Player One syndrome (ie if you aren't completely immersed in the videogames one character uses for her magic, you just sit there looking blankly at pages of incomprehensibility. If you like videogames a lot it ...more
Michael Hicks
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this title from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.]

Flex is a novel that grabbed me right off the bat, from its evocative cover art to the intense magic-as-a-drug fueled prologue, and sucked me in with Paul’s struggles to cope with and help his tragically burned daughter.

Ferrett Steinmetz is able to quickly construct a familiar world, one where not only is magic real and rightfully dangerous, but which can also be synthesized into a drug calle
Sep 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Magic comes with a price!!!

With that, time to throw the dice, Paul Tsabo an unassuming man, an everyday man, nothing to make him stand up in a crowd, and yet a married man, but soon to be divorced with a beautiful child named Aliyah Tsabo.....

They are the primary and secondary characters in this novel, in a universe where a person's obsession turns into magic or mancer as they call the person. So in this world you can become a bookmancer obsessed with books, and maybe be seen walking around with
Frank Errington
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review copy

Flex is distilled magic in crystallized form, gifted to ordinary people by 'mancers. Along with the Flex, and the powers it bestows, comes the Flux. Think newton's Third law, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

In his debut novel, Ferrett Steinmetz has created an amazing world where 'mancy is considered evil (after the annihilation of Europe, I'm not surprised).

Paul Tsabo works as an insurance claims investigator, specializing in sorting out instances involving
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, own
Paul Tsabo is the bureaucrat's bureaucrat, like Hermes from Futurama. He loves the order of forms, the power of a signature.

He loves bureaucracy so much, it turns out, that he's a fucking bureaucromancer.

That's right, folks: Flex is about a man who does MAGIC BUREAUCRACY. And it's way more awesome than it sounds, thanks to Ferrett Steinmetz's incredibly clever take on magic.

In the world of Flex, magic takes on all forms, and it's very personal and individual. But it always comes with a price: th
Once in a while there comes along a book that completely blows my mind. Flex is one of those books.

Based in an alternate reality very similar to ours, Flex gets the reader to snuggle in with things that are familiar all while destroying the fabric of all reality around you. You have Coke and Super Mario, but you also have 'mancers with magic stemming from whatever thing they have spent their lives obsessing over.

In all of this you also have a father trying to protect his daughter. A man trying
Book Riot Community
I can honestly say I’ve never quite read a book like this. I read a lot of good stuff in March, but this is the book that’s stuck with me, for its originality, its insanity, its hilarity, and most importantly, its heart. In the world of Flex, when you love a thing with all your heart, so much so that the universe bends to that love, you can do magic through it. Paul Tsabo, a knight of the pen and a king of the manila folder, has just found out he’s a bureaucromancer, and can do magic fueled from ...more
After he lost his foot in a shoot-out with a 'mancer, Paul Tsabo devoted himself to the safety, stability, and rigidity of paperwork. But when a 'mancer starts to destroy civilization, starting with New York City, Paul unleashes his true power: bureaucracy. Because the irony is, Paul has spent his career fighting illegal 'mancers...but he's a 'mancer himself. A bureaumancer. And although it sounds incredibly silly, it actually works exceedingly well. The magic systems (for every 'mancer has thei ...more
Wesley Fenza
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Meh. Classic "nice guy" fantasy. The Leading Man has a poor, injured daughter to protect, so he teams up with a hot (but fat... but not *too* fat, y'know?) lady sidekick to take down the evil wizard. Leading Man has tiny flaws, but the book treats them like they are giant flaws, and Sidekick has no flaws. The enemy is pure evil. And Leading Man is able to win because he's such a special snowflake that he finds a way to use magic with no downside. Pretty generic dude fantasy.
Yuli Michaeili
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
אחד הספרים הטובים שקראתי השנה. ואחד הספרים המפחידים שקראתי ממזמן. לא כי הספר מפחיד אלא כי לכל אורכו הייתי בחרדה שעוד רגע הוא ידרדר. שהוא לא יצליח לשמור על הציפיות והרמה שהוא בנה. שעוד עמוד, עוד פרק... ספר מעולה. פשוט מעולה. כתוב טוב, מותח, עולם מגניב ודמויות מעולות.
~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
UPDATE 7/2/2018: I recently reread this book and we had a podcast review about it with some friends! Check it out here!

This is definitely a new favorite. The magic was amazing, the characters were complex, it was just wonderful.

Flex takes place in a world where magic is known. And hated. Overuse and abuse caused most of Europe to be blown away so now everyone alive fears magic and those who use it. Each person’s magic is based on their own obsession. Not a “I really like this” kind of obsession,
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
I’ve been a longtime reader of Ferrett Steinmetz online, and his short stories remain some of the works that have resonated with me the strongest (seriously, if you haven’t read Shoebox Heaven, you should. Bring tissues.). I was therefore extremely happy when Steinmetz announced the sale of Flex to Angry Robot, and happier still when I managed to snag an eARC.

This is the world Steinmetz gives us in Flex: people who become obsessed with things become ‘mancers, their obsessions strong enough to be
Jodi Henry
I tend to really like books that push the boundaries taboos set by authors/readers/publishers of books. (Geoffrey Girard's Project Cain, and the companion novel Cain's Blood, are the most recent I've found that really push them, until I came across FLEX.) So the premise of this book is what really drew me in: distilled magic you can snort.

I mean, c'mon that's pretty damn cool. And it hints at some illicit activities in the pages of the book. And who doesn't want to read about mage's cooking up
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urbanfantasy
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
Jan 29, 2015 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: fantasy, arc-galley
DNF'd at 30%.

Go to Netflix. Pick a random show you've never watched. Go to season 2, episode 3, and tell me how much of it you understand.

That's what reading this book was like. The author has a great idea but has no idea how to tell it.

If you use your magic, it has to be offset. Okay. Magic can be used by a non-magical person in short bursts. Got it. The world doesn't like magic and the people caught using it get punished. Makes sense. These rules are established but then a bunch more get adde
This is a pretty cool concept. It sounds like it’ll be Breaking Bad: Urban Fantasy Style. Unfortunately, a lack of world building and a lack of focus in the plot made the book fall flat.

Let’s start with what I liked. The concept of how magic comes to be is pretty neat. I like the social commentary that magic is outlawed and the only magical people are the ones with an abnormal level of obsession with things. Using the urban fantasy magic element really highlights how different can be both beauti
I had never heard of the author before, though he appears to have a dedicated online following. This was the pick for my games book club, and I was game to give it a try. I don't think I would have picked it up on my own; the description doesn't really call to me and it's a bit on the fringes of the urban fantasy genre, so I doubt I would have even come across it on my own.

It was definitely different. I enjoyed the world-building a lot, and the hints of what happened to cause 'mancers (basically
Katrina Southern
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I had to take a while to think about what I would rate this book. I was impressed by the concept of this book. Magic inspired by our passions and loves made for an impressive, original idea that I was instantly drawn to. And yet, I ended up a bit disappointed. From the very beginning, I felt like I had been dropped into a world that I didn't understand, and it didn't become a whole lot clearer as the book w ...more
Beth Cato
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
At the start I found this to be crude in an uncomfortable way, and I debated if I should stop the book completely. I actually set it aside for a few days. I decided to continue because one other thing was also clear from the start: THE MAGIC IS COOL.

Flex abounds with dark and twisted magic that manifests when random people's obsessions suddenly become a way for them to channel the mysteries of the universe. That universe still has laws, though. That's why flux exists--it's an immediate karmic ba
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Holy crap, guys! This hit so many sweet spots for me. Maybe it's that I play tabletop roleplaying games for the stories and I run them so I get to make the stories, but even when I'm doing neither I find it so nice to just sit there and think of stories in those worlds. Maybe it's that I like well-put-together Excel spreadsheets and neat handwriting, and having my books alphabetized. If you're wondering what I'm rambling about, it's that Steinmetz manages to mash these things together into an am ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's nice to see urban fantasy increasingly branching out from the sexy-vampires-and-werewolves template. (Not that I don't like sexy vampires and werewolves as much as the next gal, and plenty of good urban fantasy is still written about vampires and werewolves. But variety is the spice of the reading life.) Flex presents a world where magic is powered by obsessions (with music, with video games, with wealth, with bureaucracy) and magic carries a price in the form of flux, catastrophic bad luck ...more
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2017 Reading Chal...: Flex, by Ferrett Steinmetz 1 17 Apr 12, 2015 10:21AM  
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After twenty years of wandering desolate as a writer, Ferrett Steinmetz attended the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop in 2008 and was rejuvenated. Since then, he's sold stories to Asimov's Science Fiction (twice!), Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, among others, and otherwise has a marvelous collection of very personalized rejection l ...more

Other books in the series

'Mancer (3 books)
  • The Flux ('Mancer, #2)
  • Fix ('Mancer, #3)
“He'd thwarted a killer, saved the park, saved thousands from being chewed to pieces, and did it all through other people's strength. Maybe Aliyah would die, maybe he would never have existed, but... was worth it.”
“The point is, the Internet creates 'mancers. People can craft their own reality, shutting out the facts that make them uncomfortable. They can spend hours, days online, knotting themselves around a single idea, eventually becoming a physics sink that destroys everything around them.” 0 likes
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