Fly­ing high

Io9’s ed­i­tor tells us about her new novel, which mixes up science fic­tion and fan­tasy

SFX - - Red alert -

char­lie Jane An­ders has “al­ways been in­ter­ested in sto­ries that bust open genre di­vi­sions”. Ac­cord­ingly, her new novel, All The Birds In The Sky, fea­tures at its heart “a story about a witch and a mad sci­en­tist” work­ing to­gether to pre­vent what she calls “a Buffy-type apoc­a­lypse rather than a Roland Em­merich-type apoc­a­lypse”.

But how to in­cor­po­rate two such dis­parate char­ac­ters as Pa­tri­cia, who works with other mag­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers to re­pair the Earth, and engi­neer­ing ge­nius Lau­rence in­side one novel? Think­ing about the novel as “a book about a re­la­tion­ship, in which the two gen­res are really two worlds that the main char­ac­ters come from” was key. This meant the book grew more se­ri­ous through re­vi­sions as An­ders honed in on the duo’s re­la­tion­ship.

“I got fas­ci­nated by magic and science and what hap­pens when they come to­gether,” she says. “And hon­estly, the more the magic be­came a per­sonal thing for Pa­tri­cia, and the more the science be­came an ex­ten­sion of who Lau­rence is as a per­son, the bet­ter they worked.”

To judge by the re­ac­tion of Michael Chabon (The Amaz­ing Ad­ven­tures Of Kava­lier & Clay), it’s not just the dy­namic be­tween char­ac­ters but the novel as a whole that works bril­liantly. The Pulitzer-win­ning au­thor pro­vides a gen­er­ous, Cloud At­las-ref­er­enc­ing quote for the novel’s jacket. “I had a to­tal panic that some­body had spoofed his email ad­dress and sent us a fake blurb, as a prank,” says An­ders.

As for what’s next, An­ders is un­der con­tract for a sec­ond novel. “It’s go­ing to be to­tally dif­fer­ent from All The Birds In The Sky,” she says. “For one thing, at least for now, there’s no hu­mour what­so­ever.”

All The Birds In The Sky is pub­lished 26 Jan­uary.

Char­lie Jane An­ders is work­ing on new short sto­ries and a sec­ond novel.

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