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A brilliantly inventive novel about three astronauts training for the first-ever mission to Mars, an experience that will push the boundary between real and unreal, test their relationships, and leave each of them—and their families—changed forever.
“A transcendent, cross-cultural, and cross planetary journey into the mysteries of space and self....Howrey’s expansive vision left me awestruck.”—Ruth Ozeki
“Howrey's exquisite novel demonstrates that the final frontier may not be space after all.”—J. Ryan Stradal
In an age of space exploration, we search to find ourselves.
In four years, aerospace giant Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshihiro Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the historic voyage by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation ever created. Constantly observed by Prime Space’s team of "Obbers," Helen, Yoshi, and Sergei must appear ever in control. But as their surreal pantomime progresses, each soon realizes that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. The borders between what is real and unreal begin to blur, and each astronaut is forced to confront demons past and present, even as they struggle to navigate their increasingly claustrophobic quarters—and each other.
Astonishingly imaginative, tenderly comedic, and unerringly wise, The Wanderers explores the differences between those who go and those who stay, telling a story about the desire behind all exploration: the longing for discovery and the great search to understand the human heart.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from "The Wanderers"
Copyright © 2017 Meg Howrey.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
A magnificent and expansive tale of the costs of human ambition, The Wanderers is unquestionably the work of a brilliant writer at the height of her powers. Meticulously researched and magnificently rendered, Howrey's brilliant novel on humankind's most ambitious project is, in itself, a work of wondrous skill and ambition, a book about space that's truly about people, but also about the lonely wonder of true trailblazers, the disparate cast behind a great life, and the compromises that build success. Brilliantly ambitious and deeply empathetic, Howrey's exquisite novel demonstrates that the final frontier may not be space after all.
Elegant, thoughtful, gorgeously written. A meditation on solitude, connection, aspiration, imagination and reality, which builds effortlessly to moments of immense power and honesty. There are passages near the end of this book that I will never forget.
The Wanderers is phenomenal. A transcendent, cross-cultural and cross-planetary journey into the mysteries of space and self, the novel explores the dangers and necessities of venturing away from the familiar and finding home in the unknown. Howrey's expansive vision left me awestruck.
The Wanderers is a stealthily brilliant novel. A distinct, shimmering vision of who we are and where we think we want to go. Meg Howrey's three astronauts and their families seem to embody the whole human race at the signal moment of a growth spurt. They exist, as we do now, at the edge of science fiction, their story propelled by a seriousness and intelligence wrapped in a comic and tender humanity. Meg Howrey delivers this vision in a prose that feels new, sui generis, its own necessary vehicle, with a kind of sleek precision that is at once simple, gorgeous, and profoundly moving.
The Wanderers is a wonderful exploration of space, trust, and what it means to be a conscious creature, finely-tuned and funny from the first page to the last. I loved getting lost in Meg Howrey's off-kilter world of astronauts and their simulated fantasies. She's a writer with an amazing eye for freedom and confinement and the thin line that sometimes lies between the two.
Reading Group Guide
1. Like Luke and Nari, do you have a favorite astronaut? If so, who? What about a favorite family member?
2. On p. 20, Mireille thinks “If her mother goes to Mars, then that will be the only story of Mireille’s life. It will wipe out everything.” What do you think Mireille means? Discuss Mireille and Helen’s relationship. Is Helen a good mother? Is Mireille’s resentment justified?
3. In what ways do Helen, Sergei, and Yoshi work well together? In what ways do they frustrate one another? Discuss how their dynamics change throughout the novel.
4. At one point Dmitri thinks “The thing about pride, though, is it doesn’t fully occupy you. It’s like holding a sparkler. Basically, you just stand there with a light in your hand and look up” (p. 41). How do Dmitri’s feelings about pride shape his character? How does he feel about his father’s role as an astronaut? Do his feelings toward Sergei change by the end of the novel?
5. For Eidolon, the astronauts are each allowed to bring a very small bag for personal items. Yoshi brings acorns, while Sergei has photos of his sons. What would you take to remind you of home?
6. Is Madoka an artist? Why or why not? Do you agree with her concept of art?
7. How is marriage portrayed in the novel? Do you think Yoshi and Madoka’s relationship will be different when Yoshi returns? If so, how?
8. Discuss the intersection of art and science within the novel. Do these two fields approach exploration and discovery differently? In what ways is their approach the same? What, exactly, do you think the astronauts and their families hope to discover?
9. Luke notes that the thing that is most incredible about the astronauts is their level of control. Is this control a good thing or a bad thing? How does it affect the astronauts on their mission? How does it affect their relationships with their families?
10. What did you think about the ending? What mission do you believe the astronauts were on?
11. Setting aside the realities of training, if you had the chance to go to Mars, would you? Why or why not?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
No answers many great questions
I love the premise of this book. Three astronauts are put into a mars mission simulation. It will last about 18 months. We see things from their perspective, the perspectives of some of the family members still at home, and the perspective of a person that works for the company in charge of the mission. I originally did not care for the opening chapter. It is from the perspective of the female astronaut and she started as somewhat unlikable at first. However, over time I understood her better and learned to like her more. The characters are very complex and realistic. The settings are well rendered and therefore I could see them easily in my head. The plot has a steady pace and there is enough levity to break the monotony of long distance space travel. I generally am able to leave the characters in a book easily once I finish the book. But it has been about a week now and these characters have stayed with me. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable book that makes you think. This is probably not for someone who only likes Science Fiction (which I love) because it doesn't read like Science Fiction. It is more of a book about the psychology of long distance space travel than the actual space travel.
The Wanderers by Meg Howrey is a highly recommended novel exploring the psychology of a Mars mission on the astronauts and their families. Aerospace giant Prime Space has chosen three astronauts for its upcoming mission to Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshihiro Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov have been selected for the mission, but first they must undergo a 17-month realistic simulation in the Utah desert in an operation known as Eidolon. This simulation will force the three to endure both the physical and emotional pressures of what the trip might entail for the crew. Not only are their technical, physical, and interpersonal skills tested, they are also under constant surveillance by the Prime Space’s team of "obbers" as are their family members. As their time in isolation increases both astronauts and family members question the stories they chose to tell and what is being told to them. The Wanderers explores the psychological aspects of a long mission to Mars on both astronauts and family members. The narrative focuses on what all of the characters are thinking. Not only do we have the distinct voices of Helen, Yoshihiro, and Sergei, but also Mireille (Helen's daughter), Madoka (Yoshi's wife), and Dmitri (Sergei's 16-year-old son), and a member of the "obbers." What we have here is a character study of all the people involved rather than a science fiction novel. It is well written and there is an incredible depth of insight into the characters, making them complex, realistic people. Two important things to note are that not all the characters stories have closure and the novel does feel a bit slow at times. While the psychological insight and exploration of the different characters is interesting, what drew me to this title was the phrase "Station Eleven meets The Martian." Since these are two novels I loved and both were in my top ten lists for their publication years, I was sure The Wanderers would be a winner. While the writing is certainly good and the insight interesting, the novel was done a disservice with the comparison to these other two novels. I will admit that I felt let down. Probably a 3.5 rounded up Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the Penguin Publishing group.
Having read and loved both Station Eleven and The Martian, the claim in the blurb that it was a combination of these two was beyond compelling. But, no offense to whoever wrote that blurb, that claim is so far off the mark that it would be easy to get frustrated part way in and dismiss this book entirely. That would be a mistake. The whole premise of the book is that this is a training exercise meant to simulate a mission to Mars. The astronauts who are participating are aware that it is a simulation. While they truly experience the psychological strains of people who have been isolated from their families, friends, the day to day minutiae of their civilian lives, they never fully lose sight of the fact that it’s all a fiction. They are not in Mars. Their lives aren’t really in danger. So we never get the drama that comes along with people struggling to survive, fighting for their lives, wondering if a misstep will cost them everything. So, no. Not like The Martian. Not like Station Eleven. But it stands on its own two feet, at least for the reader who likes to take journeys inside the human heart and mind, to experience the deep introspection of characters, to examine all the weird and delicate and irrational feelings that make us human. No. This book is not a space adventure. Yes, there is a lot of jargon and talking about the intricacies of engaging in the monumental endeavor that is sending humans to Mars, but this isn’t a thrilling sci fi adventure. It’s a deliberate and methodical examination of what it means to be human, to be a father, a mother, a spouse, a child. To make sacrifices for your dreams, to sacrifice yourself for others. It’s about the masks we construct to make our way through life with greater ease, and how sometimes we get so used to those masks that we forget what lives underneath. This isn’t a book that will make you laugh, or cry, or scream, or sit on the edge of your seat fraught with worry or anticipation. It’s a book that makes you think. So long as you can let go of the poorly made comparison to The Martian and Station Eleven, I think you’ll really enjoy this book for what it is. Note: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss & NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.