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Aqueduct Press
PO Box 95787
Seattle, WA 98145-2787

Elysium

by Jennifer Marie Brissett

$18.00 (paperback)
 
$7.95 (e-book) EPUB
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Finalist for the 2015 Locus Award for Best First Novel
Special Citation, the 2015 Philip K. Dick Award
A Locus New and Notable Book
A Locus Recommended First Novel for 2014

A computer program etched into the atmosphere has a story to tell, the story of two people, of a city lost to chaos, of survival and love. The program’s data, however, has been corrupted. As the novel's characters struggle to survive apocalypse, they are sustained and challenged by the demands of love in a shattered world both haunted and dangerous.

Interviews

Jennifer Brissett talks at length about the novel with Julia Wade, on a videocast here.

Strange Horizons interview by Sofia Samatar:

Advance Praise

Elizabeth Hand, acclaimed author and critic, writes: "It's really quite difficult for me to believe it's a first novel, it's so good: incredibly ambitious, beautifully written, moving, and with an extremely poignant ending, not to mention that remarkable, intricate balancing act with all your various hall-of-mirrors characters."

"Jennifer Marie Brissett has written an audacious first novel that pushes against the limits of the form. With a spiral narrative and a dance of identity and incident, she limns an array of characters and their worlds in deft strokes. Be warned that you will puzzle about the story behind the stories as you read this novel, only to discover a profound and moving answer at its conclusion. With its bold interrogation of gender, Elysium is a book like no other."
 —James Patrick Kelly, author of Wildlife and Think Like a Dinosaur

"Wow! Jenn Brissett's new novel Elysium from Aqueduct Press is a knockout. The writing and structure of the book are so accomplished, I'm amazed this is a first novel. The style flows and draws you into the fiction and keeps you there—poetic in its imagery but simultaneously economical. It's a science fiction, post-apocalyptic, tale, a love story, but not your dumb old man's love story. A love story for a new age. The structure of the novel was the most startling thing to me—a complex construction that never comes across as complicated. The effect is like a magic trick. Great characters that make the adventure worth the journey. I hope reviewers don't miss this one."
—Jeffrey Ford, author of The Shadow Year and Crackpot Palace

Reviews

Some of the praise heaped on this book includes the words "audacious," "ambitious," and "hard to believe this is a first novel." These are all entirely apt. Already shortlisted for the Philip K Dick Award, this book also seems like a natural fit for the Tiptree, and could be a serious Hugo contender if it gets enough circulation....[E]very once in awhile it’s great to see a book with such unconventional structure, that takes the genre playbook, tears all the pages out and shuffles them back together, and still manages to tell both one and many moving and satisfying stories.  
  —Locus, Karen Burnhm,  April, 2015

Page by page Elysium merely dazzles; and then it absorbs; and then, at the end, as it must, it burns. It tells a story, and a history, that matter. You should open the book.  (Read the whole review)
  —Strange Horizons, Niall Harrison,  Feb. 27, 2015

This is a complex, dense book, and reminds me of the best parts of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Brissett’s novel, her first, is as ambitious and experimental as those works, and I hope it receives similar attention.... What the book may lack in philosophical meditation it makes up for in emotional resonance: every character Brissett draws is, in one way or another, an emotional survivor—and a visceral one at that. The feeling of loss pervades the novel, reminding us that sometimes it’s not enough to survive, that living requires more than that in ways that only the best writers and thinkers—and stories—can describe.  (Read the whole review)
  —The Future Fire, Cait Coker,  Oct. 25, 2014

Brissett deftly handles the challenge of a multitude of characters all being the same people in a multitude of places that are the same place, while exploring complicated questions about identity.  (Read the whole review)
  —Publishers Weekly, October 2014

...follows the lives of two characters as they switch genders and lives in this haunting, surreal story about surviving at all costs...In a desperate attempt to save their loved ones from madness, decay and invaders who live in the fourth dimension, humans build underground cities, even growing wings and flying in this rich exploration of identity and memory.  (Read the whole review)
  —The Washington Post, Nancy Hightower,  Nov. 25, 2014

...Jennifer Marie Brissett's debut novel really delivers. Surrender to the weird structure and it's a unique, surprising and clever book that turns the post-apocalyptic genre on its head.   (Read the whole review)
  —The Register, Brid-Aine Parnell,  Dec. 6, 2014

Brissett handles this not uncommon SF trope as if it were freshly minted. Her subtle morphings of identity and circumstance among her deeply felt characters serve to make us ponder, as I said earlier, what make up the core constituents of self and personality, and what is superficial. Her crabwise plotting is a bold and successful counterpoint to more linear narratives. And while her treatment of the theme is clear-eyed and personal, she also harks to many ancestors.   (Read the whole review)
  —Locus Online, Paul di Filippo,  Dec. 13, 2014

The novel's unsettling and unusual structure works because Brissett skillfully seeds symbols and repeats elements to carry the reader through each version of the world. Just as the heroine/hero slowly comes to realize what is happening to the world, so, too, does the reader. It will inevitably bring the movie The Matrix to mind; this is a weird, however, original play on reality.   (Read the whole review)
  —Library Journal, Megan M. McArdle,  Dec. 1, 2014

When I finished reading Elysium a couple of weeks ago, my first thought was, "This was a debut?" It certainly is a daring first effort, as Brissett tackles issues of gender/sex identities and love through the interactions of two souls, Adrianne/Adrian and Antoine/Antoinette, over the course of several "lives," each of which are seen only as vignettes interrupted by seeming computer code/rebooting.... By the novel's end, the cumulative lessons that these two souls (or perhaps computer simulacra?) have learned makes Elysium one of the best debut novels that I've read in a year full of strong first novels and collections.   (Read the whole review)
  —The Of Blog, Larry Nolen,  Dec. 20, 2014

Elysium is a powerfully ambitious book. In a certain sense, it is a love story. But it is also a book about identity politics, about history and collective memory, about technology and culture, and ultimately about extermination and genocide.   (Read the whole review)
  —Los Angeles Review of Books, Steven Shaviro,  June 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61976-053-0 (13 digit)
Publication Date: 2014
paperback 208 pages