Monday, December 12, 2022

Ten top novels about communicating with extraterrestrial life

Ethan Chatagnier is the author Singer Distance, a novel just out from Tin House Books, and of Warnings from the Future, a story collection from Acre Books in 2018. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of literary journals including the Kenyon Review Online, Georgia Review, New England Review, Story, Five Points, Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Cincinnati Review. His stories have won a Pushcart Prize and been listed as notable in the Best American Short Stories and the Million Writers Award.

Chatagnier is a graduate of Fresno State, where he won the Larry Levis Prize in Poetry, and of Emerson College, where he earned an MA in Publishing and Writing. He lives in Fresno, California with his family.

Chatagnier's new novel is Singer Distance.

[Q&A with Ethan ChatagnierThe Page 69 Test: Singer Distance]

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten brilliant novels that allow "us to hold up a mirror to our own way of inhabiting the universe, and at the same time to consider forms of life almost beyond imagining." One title on the list:
Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Like [Ken Kalfus's] Equilateral, Richard Powers’s most recent novel lacks extraterrestrials, but I’m including it as a brilliant example of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence as it stands today. The book is about a father, Theo, struggling to manage his neurodivergent son’s relationship, and his own, to a world that is falling apart, its seams being torn by environmental collapse and political discord. To comfort themselves, they lean into Theo’s work analyzing the composition of distant planets and imagining what they might be like. It’s an all-to-real look at the troubles we face at home while we dream of life on distant planets.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue