Download this brilliant review from Interzone (PDF)
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
|September is probably my favourite month, for weather, foliage, and oddly a sense of a new start. |
The crucial news – I believe the draft of OUR CHILD OF TWO WORLDS has really come together. It will only be one more sweep through – strength, consistency, etc – and it goes to Jo the Mighty (my editor). Hopefully we will be moving to proper edits, a series of successively quicker to and fros…
For punctual updates, and in due course an original Cory short story… subscribe to my newsletter.
Having won rave reviews in the UK, Our Child of the Stars hits the US and Canada in paperback 2 Feb 2021. Already available as hardback, the three e-book formats, and audiobook! (BTW if your local shop doesn’t stock it, they can order it.)
Buying links – all find both hardback and paperback except Amazon
IndieBound finds independent bookshops
The LA Times loved it
“It’s 1969, the year of the moon landings, Woodstock and the ongoing Vietnam war. Against this backdrop, Gene and Molly Myers have been having a rough time since their child died some years before. [When] a meteor strikes their New England town… Molly is given the task of caring for the gravely ill survivor – an alien child called Cory.
Cory’s difference to others highlights the real messages that have been tenderly provided here – those of acceptance, warmth of human spirit along with parental love and sacrifice. It’s a wonderfully emotional, heart-warming journey of what it really means to be a parent and a reminder that at times it feels like society as a whole hasn’t really become any more accepting of those who are different since the 1960s.”
Edited for spoilers
UK praise here
The British Fantasy Society just reviewed Our Child of the Stars warmly. I wrote it in part as a love letter to science fiction, but also to fiction in general. I really want to bring in a broad audience, and certainly the audience has been broad, if not vast.
I spent a lot of time worrying about whether I would manage to alienate both SF readers and general readers. But I had considered less the SF v fantasy argument. The marvellous pair Sue Tingey and Juliet McKenna who blurbed my books, and in Juliet’s case reviewed it for SF magazine Interzone, are fantasy writers.
Many people like both, and most people accept the boundaries are a matter of opinion. Attempts to produce rigorous definitions flounder, in part because some things like time travel machines and faster than light travel are not currently believed possible but look ‘sciencey’ enough to pass.
Ray Bradbury’s books are full of things which include star ships, Mars colonies, and time travel. Yet he claimed that all his work was fantasy except Fahrenheit 451. I’m amused to see genre powerhouse Forbidden Planet list Our Child of the Stars as fantasy, and I can see their point.
I think some of our choices are based on the aesthetic. Bradbury’s dreamy prose, and limited interest in the nuts and bolts, makes his work more like a fantasy.
Stories exist. Genres are helpful, by hinting what the ground rules are, and where to shelve it in the bookshop. Science fiction in particular is vast spanning books which are SF but also allegories, Westerns, Gothic horrors, war stories, satire and social commentary, detective stories, heist movies, dystopias and utopias, coming of age stories… and family dramas.
Launch of the All Good Bookshop, Friday Sept 20th. Gather from 5pm. Also the launch of my book in paperback. It is Blue Harbour Yard, three minutes from Wood Green Station. BAB/snacks. I wrote about why this new bookshop matters here. Support independent bookshops!
I am also doing a signing at the ever-supportive Waterstones Enfield, from 12-2pm, Saturday 21st Sept. Support Enfield’s only substantial bookshop!
You can order a copy from either and I will sign if you like…
I published something about Ian McEwan’s new book, what science fiction is and isn’t, Frankenstein, where the word robot comes from, and how this fits with Our Child of the Stars.
There is a long unedited video of me talking to a friendly crew at Friends House in the Euston Rd. Part one here It is on Facebook (search for @quakercentre.) Good event, but we could have covered so much more!
Many great books have great sequels, some even surpassing the first book. Yet the debut author faced with a sequel faces some special issues.
The first book may have taken five years to write and a year to edit. The publisher will want to see the sequel within a year. Building on the audience is key – the book must build on what made fans of The First One like it, but not be a mere reheating. Certainly, it needs to be bigger, bolder… Widening it to reach new fans may annoy the existing ones. Fewer people will review the second, and they may have less compunction about being critical.
Sequels can be close or distant. Close sequels flow easily one to another. The Lord of the Rings was written as one book, divided into three by the publisher. Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun follows the same protagonist through his quest with little gaps between books. Or, sequels can be more distant. Ursula Le Guin’s second Earthsea book, the Tombs of Atuan, starts in a different country with a different protagonist. Ged, hero of the first book, turns up half-way through as a foreign prisoner. In an extreme case, Adrian Selby asked to write another book in his Snakewood world chose to write one set two hundred years before, explaining the origins of a legendary figure in the first one.
Admiring Selby’s gall, there was never much choice for me. People who wanted to read a sequel universally want to know what happens to Gene, Molly and Cory, in the very different situation facing them after the first book. And I knew what that was, so I’m happily writing that.