Introducing my debut sci-fi novella: ‘All the Orphans in the Galaxy’!

Over the 2020 lockdown, a lot of people learned how to bake sourdough bread. Some took up knitting. Others got very into gardening, or puzzles, or reorganizing their closets. I, on the other hand, got very into 1990s’ sci-fi TV and, specifically, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. These far off worlds were my escape. My world had become so small. I really wanted to go BIG in my imagination. Space operas felt perfect.

I had started watching Star Trek during my PhD, a few years back, and it had become a comforting escape for me during stressful periods. But Deep Space Nine hit differently somehow. I’ve heard people say that it’s the ‘grittiest’ Star Trek series and, from what I’ve seen, that’s definitely true. During the lockdown, it particularly resonated with me because of its themes of grief, loss and people trying to pick up the pieces after dark and difficult things.

I started writing a story (I wasn’t sure if it was a short story, or if it would turn into something longer) about a lonely teenage girl in contemporary Texas who became obsessed with her mom’s old VHS copies of Deep Space Nine. In the aftermath of a personal tragedy, these old tapes become a solace and an escape (even the old TV commercials!). Her story blended with another story: that of a folk singer traveling through outer space singing 1960s’ protest songs.

These two distinct but interconnected stories wove together. They became a novella: All the Orphans in the Galaxy. The novella is at once a quirky, literary homage to Star Trek, but, more broadly, it’s a story about the power of art (music, books, TV, movies) to get us through difficult times. (I assumed my readers wouldn’t know anything about Star Trek, but there are tons of fun Easter eggs if you know your Vulcans from your Klingons.) It’s about history – the 1960s, the 1990s – but also our personal histories: how we live with the decisions we’ve made and what we’ve lost. At its core, it’s a book about unexpected connections between people and – cheesy as it may sound – about love. Mostly this. It’s about love.

Overall it’s a wacky, geeky, emotional book. I really don’t think I would have written it during any other period of my life. I think all of our brains got a bit ‘warped’, so to speak, during lockdown. In some ways, I’m grateful for that because it challenged me to write something a bit mad (one friend who I described the book to, early on in the writing process, said that it sounded both ‘mad’ and ‘wonderful’ aka ‘monderful’).

I was then lucky enough to find the perfect match in terms of publishers: Speculative Books. They are a Glasgow-based indie press that specializes in novellas and poetry. I’ve read some of their books over the last few years and they were geeky, bold, edgy, cool, humane and big-hearted. A perfect match. And the cover they made…I just love it!

I do hope you’ll grab a copy, if it sounds like your cup of tea (‘Earl Gray tea, hot.’ Just kidding – that’s a Star Trek reference!).

If you would like to pre-order a copy, you can do so via the publisher’s website here. (They ship internationally!)

There will also be an eBook version released later this month. So, if you would prefer a digital copy, that will be available to order after the book’s release on Nov 27th

There’s also a launch party. The launch will be taking place in-person at Typewronger Books (4a Haddington Place, Edinburgh, EH7 4AE), on Sunday November 27th, 7 pm. It will be an evening of celebration, wine and outer space-themed baked goods. (The bookstore also sells old vintage typewriters! How cool!) You can of course also purchase copies of the book at the launch. Here is the Facebook event page

Some very kind things people have said about the book:

‘Gorgeously geeky and beautifully heartstring-tugging, All the Orphans is a deep space love song to the redemptive power of art.’ – Zoe Strachan

‘Vibrant, pacy…a space narrative which deftly puts ‘being human’ in perspective. A funny, insightful and sometimes poignant tale from a compelling new voice in Science Fiction!’ – Sandra Ireland

‘This is a wonderful novella that is simply and exquisitely formed…Carly Brown has written for us a playful, sad, sexy set of tipping-point stories and I encourage you to drop what you’re doing and treat yourself to All the Orphans in the Galaxy.’ – Elizabeth Reeder

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Stay tuned for more posts in the future about novellas (what they are and why I chose to write one, instead of a novel), as well as, of course, our regular 18th century inspired posts!

Until then, thank you, as always, for reading. This blog was another thing that kept me going during lockdown so, THANK YOU. And if you are a book blogger and this sounds like something you might want to review then please do get in touch.

Sending well-wishes from across the galaxy. Happy reading.

PS Today’s Featured Image is ‘Messier 81’, a spiral galaxy similar to our own Milky Way. It’s 11.6 million light years away. This gorgeous picture was taken by the Hubble Space telescope by NASA and accessed via Wikimedia.

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