Two women push the space race forward in this thrilling series opener from Neuvel (The Test). Sara represents the 98th identical generation of Kibsu women, powerfully intelligent beings whose sole goal is to “take to the stars before Evil comes and kills them all.” In 1932, Sara flees Germany with her daughter, Mia, and, 13 years later, Mia returns to entice aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun to come to America and join Operation Paperclip, a secret U.S. government program to recruit Nazi scientists. She succeeds, but must abandon the project when Sara learns that the latest generation of malevolent Trackers, who have hunted the Kibsu for thousands of years, are closing in. Sara and Mia immigrate to Moscow, where they live into the 1960s, bribing government officials and carefully disclosing intelligence to get the Soviets focused on building rockets of their own. Meanwhile, Mia finds love with a human woman and Sara tries to convince her it’s time to create the next generation. As the Trackers close in and the Soviet Union and the U.S. scramble toward space, Sara and Mia navigate increasing dangers. The balance of wry narration, wired action, and delicate worldbuilding make for deeply gratifying reading. Fans of alternate history and intelligent sci-fi will love this. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Agency. (Feb.)
Praise for A History of What Comes Next:
“Sylvain’s Neuvel’s latest genre-bending bit of genius, A History of What Comes Next, is a riveting blend of historical thriller and scientific speculation, which never loses its core of humanity. It’s exciting, thought-provoking, and ultimately shocking in both scope and plotting. It’s the opening gambit in a trilogy that spans decades and promises much more to come. I’m in for the ride to the very end!” James Rollins
"There's real cleverness at play, here." The Times
"Alt-history with a difference... all good fun." The Guardian
"[This series] is filled with virtually limitless narrative possibilities." Kirkus
"An extraordinary twist on the space race and a paean to what smart, strong women can accomplish. I'm always over the moon for Neuvel's stories!"Delilah S. Dawson
Sylvain Neuvel proves once again he deserves the title of the hottest new SF writer of the 21st century and this time he does it by looking back at the storied development of rocketry in the 20th. Clever and compelling, with a succession of kick-ass heroines propelling events along via mayhem and murder behind the scenes, A History of What Comes Next blasts off on page one and will keep you enthralled until the end.
Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of The Oppenheimer Alternative
"A highly crafted and unique look at the space race, through the eyes of those who exist only to ensure its success... Neuvel’s intriguing first-contact story is set through centuries of manipulation and pursuit. It’s a promising start to what looks to be a dark and exciting trilogy." Library Journal
"The balance of wry narration, wired action, and delicate worldbuilding make for deeply gratifying reading. Fans of alternate history and intelligent sci-fi will love this." Publishers Weekly starred review.
More Praise for Neuvel:
"Thought-provoking and disturbing. A cautionary tale illuminated with dark enlightenment."Kirkus reviews, starred review on The Test
“As high-concept as it is, Sleeping Giants is a thriller through and through. . . . Not only is Sleeping Giants one of the most promising series kickoffs in recent memory, it’s a smart demonstration of how science fiction can honor its traditions and reverse-engineer them at the same time.” NPR
"But the most surprising thing about the book may just be how compelling the central characters are in the midst of these larger-than-life concepts. . . . I can’t stop thinking about it." The Chicago Review of Books
“Reminiscent of The Martian and World War Z, Sleeping Giants is a luminous conspiracy yarn that shoots for (and lands among) the stars.” Pierce Brown
Identical mother-and-daughter pairs have one directive over the last 99 generations: Take humanity to the stars. It is now 1945, and Mia has been tasked to get Wernher von Braun away from the Nazis and working for the United States rocket program. Her path out of Germany is laden with obstacles, not the least the truth about why she and her mother Sarah left Germany in the first place. Now Mia is asking questions, her mother is trying to keep her on their path of guiding humanity, and they are trying to stay steps ahead of the mysterious Tracker, the monster set to destroy everything they have worked for. Neuvel (The Test) showcases meticulous research through his worldbuilding, highlighted by his own notes and references at the end. A highly crafted and unique look at the space race, through the eyes of those who exist only to ensure its success. VERDICT Neuvel's intriguing first-contact story is set through centuries of manipulation and pursuit. It's a promising start to what looks to be a dark and exciting trilogy.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton
The first installment in Neuvel’s Take Them to the Stars trilogy is a historical science-fiction thriller set largely in World War II Europe that follows a mother and daughter whose mysterious family’s multigenerational mission is to save humankind.
Mia Freed and her mother, Sarah, are members of the Kibsu, an all-women society whose mysterious origins go back thousands of years to ancient Mesopotamia—and beyond. Generation after generation, the Kibsu consists of a mother-and-daughter team, and their objective never changes: “Take them to the stars, before Evil comes and kills them all.” Pursued across the world by someone known as the Tracker, Mia and her mother must keep one step ahead of their mythical pursuer while also attempting the impossible—to somehow get aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, a pioneer in rocket technology, out of Nazi Germany before the Russians can get him and his knowledge. As Mia and Sarah struggle to achieve their lifelong task of getting humankind into space, Mia questions her very existence when she falls in love with a young woman who forces her to look at her life, and her suspected extraterrestrial heritage, from a different perspective. With the backdrop of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union adding tension and intrigue, Neuvel weaves a story that’s similar in tone to an X-Files episode, replete with arcane secrets, conspiracy theories, and the possibility of aliens living among us. The real power of this novel, however, lies in the adeptly developed character of Mia and her painful and revelatory journey of self-discovery. The abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion will leave some readers disappointed and others scratching their heads, but the second installment could easily set this saga, which is filled with virtually limitless narrative possibilities, back on track.
A flawed beginning to a potentially fascinating science-fiction series.