May 2019 Indie Next List
“It’s a little tricky to set up the premise of Light From Other Stars without giving too much away and alienating readers who might have a knee-jerk reaction to a plot involving space travel and a temporal anomaly. But at its heart—and it’s a big, generous heart—this book is about love and what ultimately makes us human. The sci-fi/magical realism elements act like a series of lenses that magnify and, in wonderfully odd and unexpected ways, deepen our connection to those themes.”
— Steve Haruch, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
From the author of national bestseller The Book of Speculation, a poignant, fantastical novel about the electric combination of ambition and wonder that keeps us reaching toward the heavens.
Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach--if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda's newborn brother several years before, Theo turns to the dangerous dream of extending his living daughter's childhood just a little longer. The result is an invention that alters the fabric of time.
Amidst the chaos that erupts, Nedda must confront her father and his secrets, the ramifications of which will irrevocably change her life, her community, and the entire world. But she finds an unexpected ally in Betheen, the mother she's never quite understood, who surprises Nedda by seeing her more clearly than anyone else. Decades later, Nedda has achieved her long-held dream, and as she floats in antigravity, far from earth, she and her crewmates face a serious crisis. Nedda may hold the key to the solution, if she can come to terms with her past and the future that awaits her.
Light from Other Stars is about fathers and daughters, women and the forces that hold them back, and the cost of meaningful work. It questions how our lives have changed, what progress looks like, and what it really means to sacrifice for the greater good.
About the Author
ERIKA SWYLER is a graduate of New York University. Her short fiction has appeared in WomenArts Quarterly Journal, Litro, Anderbo.com, and elsewhere. Her writing is featured in the anthology Colonial Comics, and her work as a playwright has received note from the Jane Chambers Award. Born and raised on Long Island's North Shore, Erika learned to swim before she could walk, and happily spent all her money at traveling carnivals. She blogs and has a baking Tumblr with a following of 60,000. Erika recently moved from Brooklyn back to her hometown, which inspired the setting of the book. The Book of Speculation is her debut novel.
“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