All the Birds in the Sky

As editor-in-chief of, Charlie Jane Anders is an influential voice in the realms of science fiction and fantasy. Her debut novel, All the Birds in the Sky, is two coming-of-age stories in one, following Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead as they evolve from bullied, misunderstood children into socially accepted, internally conflicted adults. Their lives and their respective interests in magic and science intertwine. As a child, Patricia finds that she has the ability to talk to animals, and a Parliament of Birds--difficult to explain but exactly what it sounds like--proclaims her a witch. Laurence finds refuge from social torment in gadgetry, building a two-second time machine and an artificial intelligence that talks to Patricia when she's lonely.

All the Birds in the Sky stands out thanks to its sweeping ambition. What Anders is attempting here--aside from a bildungsroman, love story, climate change warning, meditation on the nature of consciousness and all-around existentialist panic attack--is nothing short of a grand, semi-literal reconciliation of science with nature.

This is a novel where a character can make Herzogian pronouncements such as: "Nature has no opinion, no agenda. Nature provides a playing field, a not particularly level one, on which we compete with all creatures great and small" and have it seem no less philosophically significant as another character's experience of first love: "Even as Patricia said it back to him, she felt like her whole history was taking on a whole new focus, the landscape of her past rearranging." All the Birds in the Sky is a triumph. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

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