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