Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
In 1912, English immigrant Edwin St. Andrew wanders into a forest on Vancouver Island and unwittingly witnesses a fragment of time occurring at an Oklahoma City Airship Terminal in the year 2172 –a phenomenon also witnessed in the same spot and caught on film by Vincent, a teenage girl in the 1990s.
Gaspery-Jacques Roberts grew up in Night City on the moon’s Colony Two. In 2401, he is hired by the Time Institute to investigate this recurring blip in time, a scene which has also been written into a pandemic novel by Night City novelist Olive Llewellyn. Gaspery travels throughout time to investigate the anomaly and meets with Llewellyn in a chapter titled “Last Book Tour on Earth,” set just as a pandemic is about to hit. The connections Gaspery makes with the people who witnessed this time blip only seem to increase his questions about reality, life, and humanity.
I devoured Sea of Tranquility in a single sitting and while its plot is tricky to describe, it is the perfect post-quarantine novel. It subtly asks big questions about the human experience, while taking you on a magical journey through time that reminded me how good making connections with people (even through time and space) feels. While Sea of Tranquility can be read independently, fans of Mandel’s most recent novels, The Glass Hotel (2020) and the recently adapted for television Station Eleven (2014) will especially enjoy how Mandel continues to build on the multiverse of characters that span across her novels.