All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

birdsI really liked this novel by Anders (novelist and editor of i09) because it mixes science fiction and fantasy, engaging the two in a sort of debate: which is more powerful, magic or science, and can they peacefully co-exist?

It’s the story of two life-long friends, and occasional enemies, Laurence and Patricia. Patricia is drawn to the woods and has a childhood experience where the birds and other animals speak to her. Her priority becomes the protection of the earth and its creatures, and she spends most of her childhood trying to relive that magical experience. Laurence is a science geek who dreams of space travel and invents a two-second time machine. They are unlikely friends except both are total outcasts at school.

Anders’ paints a vivid picture of Laurence and Patricia’s torment in school and their need for each other. And yet their friendship is mixed with conflict – Laurence is suspicious of Patricia’s magic and Patricia worries that space travel means destroying the earth and leaving other living creatures behind in the destruction.

This book takes Laurence and Patricia through their college and early adult years, as each is trying to establish themselves in a profession that is far more important to them than their friendship. Their lives repeatedly intersect — sometimes they are there for each other, sometimes they work against each other.

The characters aren’t always likable but I found I sympathized with both of them. Anders really shows us their struggle to figure out who they are and what they want.

I really enjoyed this book, mainly for all the layers it brings – there’s a complex friendship here, plus a lot of interesting discussion about science, fantasy, and environmentalism. My husband likes science fiction that’s more conceptual, where I like strong characters and an interesting story. This book brings them all together.

5 Responses to “All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders”

    • curlygeek04

      I can see that, Lory. The magic part of the story was not developed as much. But I liked the characters and the story elements enough to compensate for that. I did find the whole self-aggrandizement idea off-putting, and I didn’t care much for Patricia’s friends.


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