Sea of Tranquility
Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.
A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.
Praise for Sea of Tranquility
The New Yorker
“Sea of Tranquility is broader in scope than any of Mandel’s previous novels, voyaging profligately across lands and centuries…Destabilizing, extraordinary, and blood-boiling …Mandel weds a sharp, ambivalent self-accounting—the type of study that tends to wear the label ‘autofiction’—to a speculative epic. We are shown what two forms can offer each other, and exposed to the interrogating possibilities of science fiction.”
Wall Street Journal
“‘Reality is things as they are,’ Wallace Stevens declared, and who could argue with that? Well, legions of philosophers and any number of novelists, among them Emily St. John Mandel, who, like an ingenious origami artist, seems determined with each new work to add yet another fold to our perception of what is real and one further twist to what we think of as time…Transcendent.”
The New York Times
“In Sea of Tranquility, Mandel offers one of her finest novels and one of her most satisfying forays into the arena of speculative fiction yet, but it is her ability to convincingly inhabit the ordinary, and…project a sustaining acknowledgment of beauty, that sets the novel apart…Born of…empathy and hard-won understanding, beautifully built into language, for all of us who inhabit this ‘green-and-blue world’ and who one day might live well beyond.”
The Washington Post
“Mandel delivers…with an impish blend of wit and dread. The paradoxes of Gaspery’s adventure will be familiar to anyone who’s studied Jean Baudrillard or seen “Back to the Future.” But Mandel has the stylistic elegance and emotional sympathy to make this more than merely an undergraduate bull session. It’s a chance to… wrestle with the mind-blowing possibility that what is may be entirely different from what we see.”
“Bold and exciting…Sea of Tranquility is Ms Mandel’s most ambitious novel yet (which is saying something). Inventive and…mind-bending…An illuminating study of survival and, in the words of one character, ‘what makes a world real.'”