For fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven, Sequoia Nagamatsu's debut is a wildly imaginative, genre-bending work spanning generations across the globe as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a devastating plague.
Dr. Cliff Miyashiro arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue his recently deceased daughter’s research, only to discover a virus, newly unearthed from melting permafrost. The plague unleashed reshapes life on earth for generations. Yet even while struggling to counter this destructive force, humanity stubbornly persists in myriad moving and ever inventive ways.
Among those adjusting to this new normal are an aspiring comedian, employed by a theme park designed for terminally ill children, who falls in love with a mother trying desperately to keep her son alive; a scientist who, having failed to save his own son from the plague, gets a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops human speech; a man who, after recovering from his own coma, plans a block party for his neighbours who have also woken up to find that they alone have survived their families; and a widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter who must set off on cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.
From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead, How High We Go in the Dark follows a cast of intricately linked characters spanning hundreds of years as humanity endeavours to restore the delicate balance of the world. This is a story of unshakable hope that crosses literary lines to give us a world rebuilding itself through an endless capacity for love, resilience and reinvention.
'Gorgeous, terrifying, compassionate ... An exceptional accomplishment that left me equal parts hope and wonder' Erika Swyler, author of Light From Other Stars and The Book of Speculation
'A book of incredible scope and ambition, a polyphonic elegy for the possible, for all that might be won and lost in the many worlds we make together ... Nagamatsu’s debut generates fresh wonder at all we are, plus hope for all we might become, in these unforgettable futures yet to be' Matt Bell, author of Appleseed
'You can try to compare Sequoia Nagamatsu to George Saunders or Charlie Kaufman or David Mitchell, but his is a singular voice and this is a book so original and wondrous and reality-shredding that it defies easy summary or categorization, like a dream that feels more vivid than life. It’s brave and prescient, completely bananas and yet absolutely moving, packed with humor and heart. I loved it' Benjamin Percy, author of Ninth Metal
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 13 members
This book is devastatingly good. It's a grim and darkly prophetic set of interlinked short stories set during a pandemic. *sigh* I suspect we're going to be seeing a lot of "what if Covid19 but in the future?" novels. But this one is special. The sci-fi is sublime and realistic. It draws very firmly from the art of the possible - including the terrifying euthanasia roller coaster. And, it is terrifying. I had to put the book down between each chapter to gather my courage for the next onslaught. Remember how Joey from Friends dealt with scary books? Yeah, that's what I wanted to do with this. And yet, in the middle of this awful pandemic, there's something cathartic about reading how it might go in the future. The little asides remind me of the infomercials in the Robocop movie, or the ever present advertising in Blade Runner. I've read a lot of Black Sci Fi over the last few years, but this is the first Japanese-American focussed book that I've read. The author skilfully weaves his characters together to give us a wide variety of people through which to view the end of the world. And a talking pig. It slowly builds up the terror - always dwelling on the human experience of the individual, never straying to the global level. And then gently releases us from its grasp into something surprisingly beautiful. You may find it extremely upsetting to read - but it is an outstanding experience. Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy. The book is released in January 2022 and I urge you to preorder.