‘Stellar’ The Scotsman
Leigh grew up in Rotterdam, drawn to the waterfront as an escape from her unhappy home life and volatile father. Enchanted by the undersea world of her childhood, she excels in marine biology, travelling the globe to study ancient organisms. When a trench is discovered in the Atlantic ocean, Leigh joins the exploration team, hoping to find evidence of the earth’s first life forms – what she instead finds calls into question everything we know about our own beginnings.
Her discovery leads Leigh to the Mojave desert and an ambitious new space agency. Drawn deeper into the agency’s work, she learns that the Atlantic trench is only one of several related phenomena from across the world, each piece linking up to suggest a pattern beyond human understanding. Leigh knows that to continue working with the agency will mean leaving behind her declining mother and her younger sister, and faces an impossible choice: to remain with her family, or to embark on a journey across the breadth of the cosmos.
Exploring the natural world with the wonder and reverence we usually reserve for the stars, In Ascension is a compassionate, deeply inquisitive epic that reaches outward to confront the greatest questions of existence, looks inward to illuminate the smallest details of the human heart, and shows how – no matter how far away we might be and how much we have lost hope – we will always attempt to return to the people and places we call home.
Astonishing... Beautifully written, richly atmospheric, full of brilliantly evoked detail, never sacrificing the grounded verisimilitude of lived experience to its vast mysteries, but also capturing a numinous, vatic strangeness that hints at genuine profundities about life. Nobody else writes like MacInnes, and this magnificent book is his best yet * Guardian * Monumental... It's that rare thing: a big, brawny novel of ideas that's actually readable... [A] considerable achievement * Telegraph * Laura Jean McKay, Colson Whitehead and Emily St John Mandel are serious novelists...crafting extraordinary and original speculative fiction. To that list, add Martin MacInnes * SFX * I don't think I've ever read a book that was as profound and moving at every scale - the cell, the family, the universe. In Ascension is a remarkable, expansive, stunning achievement * Karen Joy Fowler, author of Booth * An awe-inspiring and gripping epic * Graeme Macrae Burnet, author of Case Study * Martin McInnes's imagination knows no bounds: he unites the unplumbed depths of the oceans to the infinity of interstellar space in his bravura, breathtaking, audacious In Ascension. No novel I know has conveyed, in such a shiveringly exciting and original way, that old truth: We are all made of stardust. Like Ted Chiang's 'Story of Your Life', and Jeff VanderMeer's 'Southern Reach Trilogy', this is an instant classic. Read it and feel awe and wonder. * Neel Mukherjee, author of A State of Freedom * A gorgeous, sombre epic, worthy of its precursors in Stanislaw Lem, J.G. Ballard, Olaf Stapledon and Stanley Kubrick. It will be of commanding interest to all whose ears prick up at those names, or any reader hungry to see the novel's cosmic and intimate dimensions reconciled with seemingly effortless grace * Jonathan Lethem * Nothing else in contemporary fiction compares to the mind state induced in you by a Martin MacInnes novel. You're simultaneously lulled by his prose, which is noiseless and unerring like some kind of billion-dollar lab tech, and maintained in a state of constant low-level disorientation by his completely unpredictable choices, his mysteries left audaciously unanswered. In Ascension is a wondrous, hypnotic book by one of my favourite working authors * Ned Beauman, author of Venomous Lumpsucker * An absorbing, serious, and wonderful novel. It will stay with you. * Daisy Hildyard, author of Emergency *
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