All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky took me on a wonderful journey. It crosses genres, being a mix of Science Fiction and Fantasy. The two central characters are both well drawn and stand for the tension which is at the centre of the book, between magic and science. Patricia, a witch, and Laurence, a gifted scientist meet when they are both struggling to fit in at school and form a friendship which helps each other survive a fairly brutal time. The story follows them as they part, then meet in adult life, when their two worlds, that of magic and science, collide. 

As we follow Patricia and Laurence as their lives intersect, we see them grappling with ideas which go beyond their own fate. We see them mature and grow up as events unfold and as they try to make sense of their existence. The book is filled with quirky details and twists in the story which can take you by surprise. As the world appears to head for the apocalypse, magic and science are interwoven throughout the roots of the apparently impending disaster. Humanity is viewed as either the cause or solution of the catastrophe and the place of man within nature is questioned.

In an article which can be found on The Book Smugglers  website, Charlie Jane Anders discusses books which have influenced her in writing this book. She highlights Quest stories like John Langland's medieval Piers Plowman and Doris Lessing's Martha Quest where there is a search for  fulfilment. Chaucer's Parlement of Foules (Parliament of Birds) plays a role in the opening chapter. Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy takes a wry look at an apocalyptic future. Having read this, I can see where the depth of ideas is rooted. 

 In short: an absorbing look at a pre- apocalyptic world and a clash of ideas and solutions with an interesting sub plot.

 I received a copy of the book from the publishers, Titan Books, prior to publication,


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