“A masterful story that hops through time to tell a tale of love and ambition, grief and resilience . . . It is full of joy and wonder, a reminder to never stop looking up into the stars and the infinite spaces in between them.” Nylon
“Keenly wrought characters and evocative prose . . . [a] heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring conclusion. Grand in scope and graceful in execution . . . profound.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Swyler's beautiful story, told in eloquent prose, induces shivers of wonder. This meditation on time, loss, and the depth of human connection is both melancholy and astonishing.” Publisher's Weekly, starred review
“Swyler's new novel, Light From Other Stars, bends genres as it explores how the past intrudes on the present . . . Although Light From Other Stars includes plenty of science fiction elements, it's also a coming-of-age story . . . Juggling dual timelines, wonderful mid-1980s period details and a large cast of secondary characters, Swyler has set herself an ambitious task. But the novel is well-paced, with a satisfying twist near the end” BookPage, starred review
“[Swyler] offers a moving, often heartrending story with lyrical grace. . . Fans of the film Interstellar, Jeff VanderMeer's “Southern Reach” trilogy, and character-driven drama will have a new favorite. Simply gorgeous.” Library Journal, starred review
“In Erika Swyler's glittering novel Light from Other Stars, Nedda has sky-high dreams of following in Judith Resnik's footsteps but finds herself subject to the reckless whims of others . . . Both external and internal landscapes-including Florida orange groves in sweltering demise, the constrictions of womanhood, and deep space-are rendered with precision . . . it elicits wonder and sadness in turn.” Foreword Reviews
“A tender and ambitious journey through space and time, Light From Other Stars contains stunning twists and turns along the way from Nedda's childhood to her later life aboard a spacecraft on a mission bound for Mars.” Vulture
“Exquisite prose in an ambitious novel told in two timelines . . . It's hard to imagine a sci-fi book so focused on pure, deep emotion while centered on the Earth and the wonders of space. Light from Other Stars hits big issues: loneliness, the bond between parent and child; grief; death and what happens to us after death . . . Plain and simple, I loved this book.” Midwest Book Review
“Wonderfully imaginative . . . a poignant novel about the flawed but limitless love between parents and children. Swyler presses a deft finger on the fissures between art and science, love and loss, regret and hope, imprinting the reader's heart with an exquisite ache--the kind that lingers long after the story ends.” Aline Ohanesian, author of ORHAN'S INHERITANCE
“As smart and ambitious as its heroine, Light from Other Stars is an absorbing, propulsive story of exploration and loss.” J. Ryan Stradal, author of KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST
“At once expansive and strikingly intimate, Light from Other Stars is a story you won't be able to put down . . . This book is no less than a declaration that life is worth living, which makes it a vital book for our times.” Adrienne Celt, author of INVITATION TO A BONFIRE
“A poignant, beautiful tale that perfectly captures humanity's timeless struggle to reconcile love and loss. As Nedda Papas faces mystery and danger both in the orange groves of her childhood and the vastness of space as an adult, Light from Other Stars keenly but tenderly illuminates the almost magical limits of science, the sacrifices that passion requires, and what it truly means to be a family.” Peng Shepherd, author of THE BOOK OF M
“Dazzling. I absolutely loved this book. My only complaint is that I am already on the edge of my seat waiting for her next.” Sara Gruen, on THE BOOK OF SPECULATION
“Mermaids, tarot card readers, a wild man and other carnival characters work their literary magic in this debut novel . . . packed with fresh, unexpected marvels.” Oprah.com on THE BOOK OF SPECULATION
“A tale full of magic and family mystery, The Book of Speculation will keep you up all night reading.” Buzzfeed, "The 24 Best Fiction Books of 2015," on THE BOOK OF SPECULATION
“Swyler has a tale to spin, and she does so with directness and wit.” NPR.org, on THE BOOK OF SPECULATION
“While a book whose narrative hinges on drowning might not seem like a great beach read, Swyler's debut effort, redolent of salty ocean air, is just that . . . Its clever plot--fueled by a musty book and a powerful set of tarot cards--and Swyler's wonderful descriptions keep the pages swimming along.” Entertainment Weekly on THE BOOK OF SPECULATION
“Only a writer who understands the human heart as well as she understands entropy and space travel can write a book like "Light from Other Stars" - science fiction for the rest of us.” Newsday
Love and loss compel a brilliant scientist to defy the laws of physics.
It's 1986, and Nedda Papas—a precocious 11-year-old who dreams of becoming an astronaut—sits in an Easter, Florida, classroom, watching the Challenger launch on television. Across town, Nedda's father, Theo, tinkers with Crucible, a machine designed to manipulate time by controlling entropy. The technology has numerous practical applications, which is how the former NASA physicist-turned-college professor secured funding for his research, but in truth, the long-ago death of his infant son has Theo desperate to prolong Nedda's childhood. Cape Canaveral is just 10 miles away, so when Challenger explodes, it sends shockwaves both literal and figurative through Easter. As Nedda grapples with the crew members' demises, a catastrophic reaction sparks in Crucible's core, immobilizing Theo and leaving Easter's fate in the hands of Nedda and her mother, Betheen—a baker who, unbeknownst to Nedda, forsook a career in chemistry for her family. Swyler (The Book of Speculation, 2015) intersperses this storyline with scenes from Nedda's future aboard the Chawla, a four-person interstellar vessel en route to a faraway planet when its life-support generator begins to fail. Keenly wrought characters and evocative prose complement a multifaceted plot that explores topics ranging from relativity and thermodynamics to parent-child relationships and the afterlife. Though Theo's grief and ambition serve as a catalyst, it's Nedda's and Betheen's passion, determination, and fortitude that drive the book to its heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring conclusion.
Grand in scope and graceful in execution, Swyler's latest is at once a wistfully nostalgic coming-of-age tale and a profound work of horror-tinged science fiction.