You’re either one of us or one of them. The way we look at the world, the words we use, or even what we find entertaining can often cut a divide between people. Take science fiction and fantasy, for example. You can find friends comparing the merits of things like Falkor with those of the Millennium Falcon. While it may be fun for some to debate ad nauseam, Charlie Jane Anders may finally heal the rift between sci-fi and fantasy in her newest book, All the Birds in the Sky.
The award winning author sets her sights on this epic tale spanning both genres. Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead find themselves reunited after being separated long ago. When a mysterious force threatens the destruction of their world, these once-close friends find themselves together again in order to take on the task of saving the world with both science and magic.
The book originally started with the idea of “having a mad scientist and a witch in the same story.” The idea of a world existing in the digital realm and mystical one intrigued her. For this author, science fiction means problem solving. “There’s a reason why scientists are the heroes,” Charlie replies. “[They] look at evidence and make sense of it… I love people who don’t just take things at face value. Like in Star Trek: The Next Generation, they would have a problem and hack at it until they figure it out, trying a bunch of different things until it works.”
Fantasy also deals with big mysteries, but in a very different way according to Charlie. She describes it as “huge things in the backdrop that you can never completely know or understand… It’s more like having a connection to have something bigger.” Earthsea novels were one of the inspirations behind the fantasy aspect. There’s a mystery to solve in the books, but the heroes need to contend with weightier issues such as death in order to move forward.
And so we come back to the beginning. What will save the day, the scientific mind or the mystery of magic? Charlie finally came up with the answer: both of them. She continues, “The more I drilled into it, the more it became about two people with two different views of the world… For me, the interesting part is what they have in common.”
Bridging genres and bringing people together comes naturally to Charlie. Writers with Drinks is a monthly series she started over a decade ago that brings together writers, poets, comedians, and anyone else with a story to tell together in one room. Charlie often finds that people are more similar than they realize once you get them on the stage. Poets and comedians work the stage in similar ways in order to get the audience on their side or find the response that they’re looking for from their work. Charlie brings up the fact that sometime she’ll bring in lesser known writers to stand beside bigger names to help them get noticed. Building bridges, bringing people together, smashing up genres; All the Birds in the Sky seems like a natural evolution in Charlie Jane Anders’ career.
To get a feeling of the passion behind the work, you should check out her TEDx talk below about bringing nature and human ingenuity together. If you are interested to learn more about All the Birds in the Sky, head over to Tor where you can read the first four chapters for free. This is your chance to find a new favorite author without having to spend a dime.