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The Stargazer’s Embassy
By Eleanor Lerman
From the 2016 John W. Campbell Prize Winner for Best Science Fiction…
AN EVOCATIVE AND UNEXPECTED TAKE ON THE FRIGHTENING PHENOMENON OF ALIEN ABDUCTION
“[A] skillful and satisfying novel of a very personal alien invasion […] fitting for any reader who enjoys deep and subtle stories.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Wonderfully eerie, mysterious, captivating, and thought-provoking. I got pulled into The Stargazer’s Embassy right away and thoroughly enjoyed the read. Highly recommended.”
— Toby Johnson, author of The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell
“This novel has an inspiring premise and an even better plot. Eleanor Lerman […]is a first-tier writer.”
— New York Journal of Books (Radiomen)
From the first widely discussed case of alien abduction in 1961, when Betty and Barney Hill described the terrifying experience of being forcibly abducted by aliens, to the present day when such frightening incidents continue to be reported across the globe, encounters with “others” usually cast the aliens as those in control and their human captives as helpless victims. But is that always the case?
Hot on the heels of her critically acclaimed, John W. Campbell Prize winning literary sci-fi novel Radiomen [The Permanent Press, 2015], in July 2017 Eleanor Lerman will release The Stargazer’s Embassy [Mayapple Press], a startling and emotionally resonant tale that upends how we think about alien abduction. In this story, it is the aliens who seem fearful of Julia Glazer, a strange young woman living in Greenwich Village who they’re desperately trying to make contact with.
Violent and despairing after the murder of the one person she loved – a psychiatrist who was studying abductees (or, as he preferred to call them, “experiencers… I don’t like the term abductees because it implies a one-sided event, which I think is not what we’re dealing with,” he tells her early in their relationship) – Julia is a reluctant target for the aliens, and has spent much of her life rebuffing their advances. It’s not until she lands back in Freelingburg, the upstate New York town where she was raised – and home to The Stargazer’s Embassy to the World, a rundown, sci-fi poster-plastered bar run by her stepfather – that the mysterious threads of her past and present begin hurdling towards a shocking conclusion.
With a colorful cast of characters including a strange man who can take photographs with the power of his mind, a tattoo artist, and an abductee locked up in a mental hospital, The Stargazer’s Embassy is a page-turner that transcends typical science fiction tropes and, ultimately, an evocative meditation on the meaning of existence and death.
“The idea behind the entire story is that if aliens are indeed visiting us on earth, they’re as confused about death as we are,” Lerman reveals. “Despite the fact that humans and other beings with whom we share the universe have completely different frameworks for conceiving of existence and different beliefs underlying that existence, it’s interesting to speculate about the likelihood that we are all, nevertheless, connected across time, distance, and the unimaginable vastness of space, by a belief in a creator, and concerns about what happens to us when we cease to exist.”
Sure to cement Lerman’s status as one of this generation’s most notable literary sci-fi authors, The Stargazer’s Embassy is a poetic and endlessly thought-provoking addition to 2017’s fiction landscape – and will be available wherever books are sold in July 2017.
What I Thought of the Book:
I thought the title of this sounded interesting, so I requested it from NetGalley. I’m a real sci fi fan. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a touching tale of Julia, who has been plagued by alien experiences, whether she’s at work or wherever and I get the feeling early on in the book that she just wants a normal life.
Things start to change when she goes to a gathering to see shooting stars…
Before I read the synopsis, I assumed from the title that this would be a book based at some kind of stargazer HQ deep in the galaxy. It was a refreshing change though, to find out that it was very different to other scifi books.
The fact that The Stargazer’s Embassy actually turns out to be Julia’s grandfather’s bar was a nice, if unexpected, touch. The book is peppered with personal touches like this, and that’s what increased its appeal for me. The Stargazer’s Embassy has a touch of romance in its plot, as Julia meets John, and they begin to hit it off despite their dfferent backgrounds, experiences and opinions.
John is not just any psychiatrist- he says that his patients, or “experiencers,” are always talking about alien abduction experiences.
Julia has had her fill of aliens and related experiences through her mother Laura who was barely around for her as a child, instead wandering off and always talking about aliens. This caused a rift and deep-seated anger in Julia, which is still there years after her mother’s death. She is very sceptical of anything to do with aliens, She busies herself cleaning houses and listening to any kind of music she can while putting up with a job that pays the bills but that she is less than happy in.
Throughout the book, we are introduced to a cast of varied and well-fleshed-out characters which makes The Stargazer’s Embassy an enjoyable read and a very unteresting take on the subject of alien abduction.
The Trekkie in me was impressed with this-it’s not often I find a scifi book I enjoy that is not a Star Trek The Next Generation or Voyager book.
The Stargazer’s Embassy has great character development and an unusual plot that captured my attention. I really liked Julia as a character in that she seemed determined to live life as she wanted in spite of her upbringing.
That said, The Stargazer’s Embassy is a quick, fun read. Thanks to Eleanor Lerman and Mayapple Press for a copy of my ARC.
About the Author:
Eleanor Lerman is the author of numerous award-winning collections of poetry, short stories, and novels. She is a National Book Award finalist, the recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2016, her novel, Radiomen, was awarded the John W. Campbell Prize for the Best Book of Science Fiction. She lives in New York.
Find Eleanor Lerman on Twitter, Goodreads, and at http://www.eleanorlerman.com.
The Stargazer’s Embassy [Mayapple Press] will be available in paperback and e-book formats wherever books are sold as of July 2017. Pre-order it today on the Mayapple Press website: http://mayapplepress.com/the-stargazers-embassy-eleanor-lerman/