sea of tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel is an intriguing story to say the least. One of the characters, Olive is an author who wrote a book during a flu pandemic and is on a reading tour. At times there’s a live audience, but most of the time she’s talking to holograms. Olive’s novel is described as post-apocalyptic and Olive is often asked why people care about this kind of story. Someone told Olive that people care because life is so unequal and unfair, that maybe we yearn to “blow it all up and start over-” Olive thinks that when we think about the end of the world, we we really believe that we are there, that we have finally reached this point, but she sees it a little differently by asking the question: “What if it was always the end of the world?”
The novel begins in 1912 when a young man from a wealthy family in England is sent to Canada after an unacceptable dinner conversation. His plan was to go to Canada anyway, but that only speeded up the process. He is one of three sons, and not being the eldest, he will never inherit the family estate. He imagines himself becoming a farmer in Canada even though he has no idea how he would go about becoming one. A walk in a forest triggers a most unusual experience when the light changes and he hears violin music. He stumbles upon a small church when he is having a conversation with a young priest who, it turns out, does not exist as a priest in that church, but he is real.
Sea of Tranquility is published in hardcover by Knopf and retails for $25.