An ambitious, spellbinding and breathtaking endeavour that raises the bar for fiction across the board. Nagamatsu’s poetic narrative is a magnificent achievement!
‘How High We Go in the Dark’ is a hauntingly beautiful genre bending read that accentuates the horrors of climate change – a world blighted by natural disasters and a terrifying plague that escapes from the depths of the permafrost – while focusing on the will of humanity and the power of resilience.
Written before the Covid Pandemic, Sequoia Nagamatsu’s prescient narrative immaculately captures a sense of atmosphere and unfurls a deeply layered and richly textured landscape, all recounted through short vignettes – from how the outbreak began to humanity’s response, spread across a 6,000 year period – ostensibly disparate yet interconnected events.
From Amusement Park rides being used to euthanise sick children to Elegy Hotels, the many narratives are as much about death and destruction as they are about grief, acceptance, family and a collective sense of being.
‘How High We Go in the Dark’ refuses to pigeonhole itself into a particular category and renounces the age old tradition of labelling works. With nuance and subtlety, the collection of stories manages to oscillate between pure sci-fi to historical fiction – a heady concoction that is both fantastical and relatable at the same time.
Nagamatsu reaffirms the case for non-linear story arcs that make the reading experience all the more engaging and exciting. A sublime piece of speculative fiction – with a dazzlingly rewarding end – that dances, swirls and soars in search of hope and possibility, ‘How High We Go in the Dark’ is a magnificent achievement – one that will continue to transcend time & space as it hurtles its way across the galaxy.
P.S. This reminded me a bit of another speculative fiction story. Check out the film review here: Little Fish
Watch Sequoia Nagamatsu discuss ‘How High We Go in the Dark’