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The Wanderers (G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Brilliantly imagined and wholly original, The Wanderers follows three astronauts as they audition 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. Inspired by real-life experiments designed to test the psychological and physiological demands of a human mission to Mars, Meg Howrey’s intrinsically-researched, stunning new novel is described best by J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times-bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest, “Ambitious and deeply empathetic, Howrey’s exquisite novel demonstrates that the final frontier may not be space after all.” Readers of Station Eleven, Karen Joy Fowler, and Ruth Ozeki will love this imaginative, witty work of literary fiction and its moving tribute to human relationships that define and support incredible scientific achievement.
In four years, Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars in a wildly ambitious and history-making mission called MarsNOW. Helen Kane, Yoshihiro Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the job by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation of a space mission ever created.
Helen, recently retired from NASA after a decades-long career and three extended missions to space, has not trained for irrelevance. It’s nobody’s fault that the best of her exists only in space, but her daughter can’t help placing blame. This mission is Helen’s last chance to return to the only place she’s ever felt at home. For Yoshi, the mission is an opportunity to prove himself to the high-powered wife he has loved absolutely, if not quite correctly. Sergei is willing to spend seventeen months in a tin can if it means traveling to Mars, ultimately proving his own immense strength and stamina as an example of solidity for his sons.
As the days turn into months aboard the simulated spacecraft, the line between what is real and unreal fractures irreparably, and the astronauts learn that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. As their family members navigate planet Earth thousands of miles away, facing their own greatest fears and achieving incredible personal triumphs, the astronauts grapple with intense loneliness and increasingly prevalent psychological stress. They start to ask themselves the eternal questions that we have all faced: What is life? Who are we? What is the purpose of all this cosmic mayhem? Probing just how well we can ever know ourselves, or hope to know somebody else,
The Wanderers gets at the heart of what it means to be human—even when we’re a million miles from home. Sweeping in both its delicious, witty writing and phenomenal, factual exploration of outer space, Howrey’s meticulously researched yet tender novel puts a uniquely human face on the science behind space exploration, bringing sparks of life to each astronaut and reminding us that in an age of space exploration, the thing we search most desperately for is to find ourselves.
Praise for The Wanderers
"Three astronauts and those who know them best explore the limits of truth and love in Howrey's genre-bending novel...The voices are distinct, each member reviewing and acting on his or her own emotional telemetry with equal parts brilliance and blunder, and the stakes are high, with any heartbeat capable of tipping the scales against the crew's survival...With these believably fragile and idealistic characters at the helm, Howrey's insightful novel will take readers toa place where they too can 'lift their heads and wonder.'"–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Engrossing…Although the contours of a space drama may seem familiar to a 21st-century readership, Howrey, through the poetry of her writing and the richness of her characters, makes it all seem new. A lyrical and subtle space opera"-–Kirkus, Starred Review
“The Wanderers…confronts ageless questions of why humans explore, what they are looking for, and what happens when they find it. Evoking the authenticity of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves (2015) with the literary sensitivity of Ann Patchett, Howrey has made the mission-to- Mars motif an exquisite exploration of human space, inner and outer.”-–Booklist
“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.” —Ruth Ozeki, New York Times bestselling and Man Booker shortlisted author of A Tale for the Time Being
“An 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 dazzling 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. Fiercely inventive and deeply empathetic, Howrey’s exquisite novel demonstrates that the final frontier may not be space after all.”—J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest
“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.”—Peter Nichols, national bestselling author of The Rocks and A Voyage for Madmen
“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.”—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe and Sorry Please Thank You
“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.”—Jonathan Lee, author of High Dive
Meg Howrey is a former dancer who performed with The Joffrey, Eglevsky Ballet, and City Ballet of Los Angeles. She toured nationally with the Broadway production of Contact, for which she won the Ovation Award in 2001 for best featured actress in a musical. Howrey is the author of two previous novels, Blind Sight and The Cranes Dance, and the coauthor of the bestselling novels City of Dark Magic, and City of Lost Dreams, published under the pen name Magnus Flyte. Her nonfiction has appeared in Vogue and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
Charles Yu is the author of three books. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in various publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Wired. He is currently writing for an upcoming HBO show created by Alan Ball, and is also at work on his next novel, The Book of Wishing.