Our Child of Two Worlds: a few reviews of interest

(There are more – this is a quick selection)

“A compelling story of love, family, and hope, Stephen Cox skilfully continues the story of Cory, the alien child who became the beloved son of Molly and Gene in Our Child of the Stars. Cory is torn between where he came from and his life on Earth. Heart-warmingly beautiful, Our Child of Two Worlds is not to be missed.”

Barbara Conrey, USA Today Bestselling author of Nowhere Near Goodbye

Annarella – Scrapping and Playing blog

“Riveting, compelling, and emotionally charged: a page turner I loved”

SF Book Blog

“This is a book about hope, hope that things can get better, that we can work it out”

David, Blue Book Balloon Blog

“Like the best SF, Our Child of Two Worlds is about us, at our best and worst, and how we respond to the best and the worst in others. Cory’s people are from a very different, almost Utopian seeming culture and – as in one of Swift’s novels – we’re judged by that comparison, Cory himself noting it even as his love for his adopted parents and his friends burns bright. Are we worth saving, if we seem willing to destroy ourselves anyway?

GeekDad/GeekMom

“Once again, Stephen Cox has created a novel that strikes at the heart of family. The novel, I think, can be seen as an examination of how complicated family interactions can be. How infuriating blood relatives are. How difficult marriage can be even when both people are on the same page, wanting the same things. How hard it is when what is best for your child most definitely isn’t best for you. Throw in some aliens and the threat of the extinction of the Earth and those themes are stretched to their limits.” 

Wet Broken Things Blog

“The sequel to Our Child of the Stars will definitely delight those of us who loved the first instalment.”

For Winters Night Blog

“Stephen Cox writes beautifully and fills his characters with warmth and self-questioning. I love the incidental characters who debate whether Cory is a hoax. There’s the drama surrounding Molly’s family. There are tensions that play out on an intimate scale against the massive context of aliens, space travel, the potential end of the world. It works brilliantly.”

Firestarter lit a fuse for Our Child of the Stars

A new Firestarter movie is the third screen adapation of Stephen King’s novel. I’m going to see it, because I have a weird affection for the book, and it was a curious influence on Our Child of the Stars.

I found out yesterday that SF critic Brian Aldiss agreed with me that Firestarter was a better book than Carrie, which is some support.

Some influences are chosen – for example I knew the arrival of the Meteor would resonate with Smallville, the Superman origin story yet of my creation. There’s also some unconscious Firestarter influence in that both it and my work use the ‘sweet child, terrible power’ trope and both have a family with a special child fleeing unaccountable government forces across the north-eastern US. The clever ending of King’s novel was also an influence on how my first book resolves.

Zack Efron will play Charlie’s Dad, Andy in the new film and if he wants to play Gene in the film of Our Child of the Stars, our people should talk.

I wrote about some of this on Medium.

Zac Efron as Andy protects Charlie in a scene from the new movie

SPOILERS ALLOWED Zoom discussion

I am running a Zoom Meeting on Tuesday 3rd May, 730-9pm BST. This is for people who have read both books or who don’t mind if the brilliant ending is spoiled (!? if such people exist.) All welcome for a civilised chat about the books and allied topics.

There will be other opportunities to talk.

I need your email to send you the Zoom links. Best is to subscribe to my newsletter whose subscribers knew about this weeks ago.

Sweet children with terrifying powers

I have a section on the cool new book website www.shepherd.com. It allows authors to share their books and promote them with five books by other people on a relevant theme. There are various other developing features – check it out. I feature Our Child of the Stars because if you like the first, you will buy the second, right?

My Five Books is “Sweet children with terrifying powers”.

Writers must be careful handing out great power, as it can wreck the sense of peril. In Our Child of the Stars, Cory is innocent, enormously kind, engaging, and lovable. He brings his new family into many dangers. One power is first used to save his parents, not understanding the terrible harm it will do. His empathy makes it horrific to use and he is frightened of it.  It becomes an absolute last resort.

The list has five strong candidates, and one at least was a direct inspiration for my books.  I think there are several newer books from more diverse backgrounds, and I am building a broader list.  TV and film have some classics – Eleven in Stranger Things for example. I welcome examples that are

(i) SWEET

(ii) CHILDREN or naïve childlike teens

With

(iii) TERRIFYING

Powers. 

I have had so many suggestions where (i) BAD (ii) TEENAGERS with (iii) WELL KNOWN AND WIDELY AVAILABLE powers are suggested.

Early praise for Our Child of Two Worlds

Beautiful and tender. I really love the characters… there is so much empathy and warmth and humanity. …the same esteemed league as Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series… (Patricia Rodriguez, Actor, reader for the two audiobooks.)

A cross between ET and Independence Day… [Cox] ramps up readers’ emotions in this heart-warming and thought-provoking story. A world on the brink of destruction and the one small alien boy who is determined to save it. It’s very tense and I wasn’t crying – honest!  (Sue Tingey, author)

The writing is as wonderful as always, concerned with the small, telling details that show the wider picture so effectively. It’s evocative and beautiful and works to make you care even more deeply about both the characters and the earth that’s so under threat… This book has the same emotional heart and heft of the first one, but on a much larger (as in galaxies larger) stage, a tricky balancing act pulled off with aplomb. (Sophie, Goodreads)

It may be shelved under Sci-Fi but for me, Our Child of Two Worlds is a stirring novel about family and home. Rich with humanity, it explores our species’ tendency to damage ourselves, our relationships and Planet Earth. And at its core, it gives us Cory, the young, vulnerable ‘purple’ with tentacles who powered the original novel by making us love him. A powerful, sad but satisfying sequel.” (Sue Hampton, author, peace and climate activist)

I couldn’t put this book down … well written with an interesting and well written storyline and well-developed characters that I enjoyed (Goodreads)

Cox has done a superb job of building on all the strengths of the first book while taking the story in new and interesting directions. (Juliet McKenna, author)

The thing I liked most about Our Child of the Stars was the characters, they felt nuanced and real and even characters who only appear briefly are believable people who could be the main character of their own story. The same holds true for Our Child of Two Worlds, which takes the much loved characters of the first book and alongside brilliant newly introduced ones, thrusts them into new scenarios, some anxiety-inducing, some heart-warming, some both. The new characters fit into the story so well that if you reread, as I have, you can’t wait for them to turn up again to experience the exciting dynamics they bring.  (Lucy, Goodreads)

Our Child Of Two Worlds is modern, emotionally sophisticated science fiction. Stephen Cox’s tale of the charming but lost alien child Cory shows us that humanity, for all its flaws, is worth saving, and that the power of the human heart stretches from this world to the next ― DAN JONES, author of Man O’War and host of Chronscast.

Love and Joy and Hope

I have been writing novels seriously for ten years and working on Cory and his family for eight.

My warm thanks to all those who supported and challenged and questioned and fed back on my journey. The tale is stronger for your help.

Our Child of the Stars was only half the story I wanted to tell. Our Child of Two Worlds concludes my original idea for his story.  This forms a good time to reflect on love and joy and hope.

The books are a love letter to stories I have enjoyed – all sorts of books but specifically science fiction and other speculative works.  They show the joy of reading – how a book can take you to another world and make you care for people who don’t exist. 

They draw on film as well as books. They cry out to be a film or a TV series.

The books are about the joys of life and relationships.

The books are a love letter to people close to me – my parents, my children, and my partner.  Love is not blind to people’s faults – love is at its greatest when you know the faults and find a way through that.  It is also a love letter to that other great relationship, friendship. One critic found that the Greeks had eight different types of love, and the books talk about all eight of them.

When Pandora unleashed all the ills of the world – how men want to make women responsible for everything bad – the one thing left was Hope. 

The books say that life and love are precious. We live on an extraordinary world and yet it is under threat – from us. science fiction writers spin dreams of what is possible. Yet simply moving into space is centuries off being a relevant solution.   Whether aliens exist or not, it will be down to us to save ourselves.  If we have hope, that urgent change is possible. 

Things can show truth without being true. Fairy-tales are not there to tell us that dragons exist.  Fairy-tales are there to tell us that dragons can be beaten.

US Canada and worldwide availability of my novels

Our Child of Two Worlds is published in the UK (etc) in eBook, Audio and hardback 31 March 2022.

US and Canada confirmed eBook also out 31 March and hardback 14 June.

Our Child of the Stars and Our Child of Two Worlds are currently only available in English -the latter out 31 March 2022. (Translation rights enquiries welcome.)

‘Available in the UK’ also means both will be available in English in other countries worldwide. Ir was certainly on sale in Australia and New Zealand and popped up in Europe and Africa too.

Film rights also available and enquiries welcome

Order signed copies

There will be signings in Haringey and Enfield around launchtime.

Fabled bookbox gurus Tea Leaves and Reads loved the first one. They have made Our Child of the Stars their April Book of the Month in hardback. They plan to make Our Child of Two Worlds a later Book of the Month. Both will be signed.

All Good Bookshop, Turnpike Lane, London (Cooperative bookshop, community hub, meeting place for groups, and supporter of my writing group.) You can ask for it to be signed, or dedicated, on the web order.

12 weeks to go – Our Child of Two Worlds

Our Child of Two Worlds completes the story begun in my much-praised debut, Our Child of the Stars.  It will be published in the UK on Thursday 31 March 2022, in hardback, eBook and audiobook.  Please preorder it to avoid disappointment.

I am going to be busy promoting the book and talking about various aspects of it.

No spoilers here

Small-town USA, entering the Seventies. A childless couple Gene and Molly adopt a strange, wounded child of the stars they call Cory.  Molly is the main narrative voice – a passionate nurse fighting for her own extraordinary child. Cory is gentle, vibrant, excitable, endlessly curious and loving – and come from yet his otherworldly origins. bring both joy and danger

In Our Child of Two Worlds a figure from the past brings uncomfortable truths and Gene and Molly face the terrifying loss of everything they took for granted. A divided Earth is under threat – humanity needs Cory’s people to return to save the Earth – but if his people take him back, it will break Molly’s heart.

My writing offers hope, optimism, and a taste of humour, but still facing up to the dark and difficult side of life. I think books can create worlds a bit different from ours, and still be truthful, providing the characters feel real. It was fantastic how well the books landed with readers of all genres. I hope I make people think, but it’s always a good story, not a sermon.

It’s not about the pandemic, at least not directly.

Here’s a few thoughts to whet your appetite.

The stakes are higher than before – for the characters and the Earth. Gene, Molly, Cory and baby Fleur face hatred, danger, and separation. I liked my agent’s summary of the first book

…a big Hollywood canvas and an intense family focus, emotionally devastating, funny and charming all at once’

So to reassure you, the big picture stuff is seen through the family’s eyes.

I bring in three memorable new characters I’m very proud of to make life even more complicated.

It’s an end of the world novel in several respects. It was an era with a real threat of nuclear war and a growing understanding of how humanity could destroy the environment.

Add to that, there are malign forces in space which could destroy a squabbling Earth. At that time the superpowers were edging towards more normal relations – the President whose career was built on fighting communism is about to visit China. Is there enough sense of common humanity (or love for nature) to unite?

As ever, it asks what we owe each other in this life. As ever, how people disagree makes the world what it is.

Please spread the word