Harvey, Samantha


6 in stock

6 in stock

Six astronauts rotate in their spacecraft contemplating the world below

‘Beautiful in every aspect’
SARAH MOSS, author of Summerwater

A team of astronauts in the International Space Station collect meteorological data, conduct scientific experiments and test the limits of the human body. But mostly they observe. Together they watch their silent blue planet, circling it sixteen times, spinning past continents and cycling through seasons, taking in glaciers and deserts, the peaks of mountains and the swells of oceans. Endless shows of spectacular beauty witnessed in a single day.

Yet although separated from the world they cannot escape its constant pull. News reaches them of the death of a mother, and with it comes thoughts of returning home. They look on as a typhoon gathers over an island and people they love, in awe of its magnificence and fearful of its destruction.

The fragility of human life fills their conversations, their fears, their dreams. So far from earth, they have never felt more part – or protective – of it. They begin to ask, what is life without earth? What is earth without humanity?

‘One of the most beautiful novels I have read in a very long time’
MARK HADDON, author of The Porpoise

‘A slim, profound study of intimate human fears set against epic vistas’

Format: Hardback
Pages: 144
Imprint: Jonathan Cape UK
Publication date: 06/02/2024

Staff review

By Samantha Harvey
Review by Josh

A contemplative and awe-inspiring novella on the wonder and profoundness of space travel. Set on the International Space Station, the book tells the story of 6 astronauts and their experiences as they orbit around the earth. With 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets within a day the daily orbit of an ISS astronauts is as bizarre as it is inspiring. It’s this interplay of indescribability and profound meaningfulness that Orbital gracefully floats around in.

The book focuses less on heavy plot beats and more on the quiet moments of space exploration. The floating around in your sleeping bag dreaming of earth, the daily analysis of a typhoon as seen from orbit, the experience of seeing your home, and the home of all life from a wholly new perspective. It’s these moments that are less common in books on space, not the science and grandness of what we as a species are accomplishing but the more subtle effects on the human psyche, how such an experience alters ones perception of life on our planet. A remarkable book, moving, fascinating, thought-provoking and short enough you’ll want to read it again the moment you finish.

For fans of Anne Carson’s poetic prose, This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone, and Audition by Pip Adam.

ISBN: 9781787334342 Categories: , Tag