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Light from Other Stars

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,415 ratings  ·  498 reviews
From the author of national bestseller The Book of Speculation, a poignant, fantastical novel about the electric combination of ambition & wonder that keeps us reaching toward the heavens.

Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach—if she can just grow up fast e
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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Gretchen Pierce Doesn't it also have to do with the presence of the water acting as a conductor of sorts? I think there was water dripping into the truck and the spri…moreDoesn't it also have to do with the presence of the water acting as a conductor of sorts? I think there was water dripping into the truck and the sprinklers went on at the grove.(less)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  2,415 ratings  ·  498 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow!!! .... I was left with a big lump in my throat as I turned the last few pages. I sat quietly just staring out the window.
It’s not a book one easily jumps away from and walks off quickly.
It’s a book that transforms we continue to reflect.
It brims with heart - pleasures and pain between parents and their children. It’s a highly imaginable story - one that expands our horizons between earth and space.

This novel is wonderful - extraordinary - incredibly ambitious.....and as ambitiou
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

This was a 4 star read for me.

This is my second book by Ms. Swyler and it is really quite different. I believe that “The Book of Speculation” was more magical realism and this one is science fiction. I think it might be important for readers to know that. I do not read science fiction and some parts of this novel were just plain frustrating for me. The believability factor was a problem for me at
Angela M
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Science fiction is not a genre I typically read, but there was something about the description of this book that appealed to me. I am more than a little surprised at how much I loved it. Most of the sci-fi stuff was beyond me and while I didn’t find most of it believable, the author did a fabulous job of helping me to imagine it.

Eleven year old Nedda loves space travel and astronauts and science and her heart is broken when The Challenger crashes. Nedda’s love of space travel and her a
Hannah Greendale
May 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Intriguing premise but innefective execution. Would recommend Light from Other Stars to fans of The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan or Borne by Jeff Vandermeer.
She'd been little when he'd told her about the beginning of the universe and how the solar system was born. How the sun was like an island, and the planets were ships sailing around it. He'd said, "Pluto is our far star sailor," the way other people said Once upon a time. His words opened a door inside her.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Eleven year old Nedda Papas wants to be an astronaut. Her father once worked for NASA (was laid off) and she is devastated when she watched the Challenger Catastrophe at her school. I could relate to this part of the book as I also watched the Challenger break apart 73 seconds into its flight live in my science class. But that is not where the book begins, the book begins when an adult Nedda is in space aboard the Chawla. She has been in space for two years and has several more to go before they ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don’t normally read science fiction and I’m usually not too keen on books about space travel either, so I surprised even myself when I decided to pick up Erika Swyler’s latest work Light from Other Stars . It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, but when I first read the summary, I was drawn to the story and was curious how it would turn out. While I did end up liking the story as well as the characters a lot, I have to admit that all the science and space stuff went way over my head, to the poi ...more
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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erika Swyler
Sep 26, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Is it time? Yes. It's time. I wrote this book and I'm very fond of it. I hope you are too. :-)
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing

4.5 stars

Why you may not like this book: It's weird! It is also a slow book that definitely has a built in sense of urgency, but is in no rush to reveal it's mysteries. It jumps between times. The writing can also be very science-heavy at points, though I'm not vouching for the accuracy of the science. If you are the kind of reader that finds themselves skipping over details to get to the meat of the plot, this is probably not the book for you. Also, if you are someone who struggles with bright
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved the premise of Light From Other Stars when I read it. The story lost me, unfortunately. It's not a bad story or badly written. I got lost somewhere in the scientific stuff, and I just couldn't maintain interest enough. I skimmed through probably half of the story. If scientific stuff is your thing, you'll like it. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
*Updated July 4th 2020: I'm bumping this up to 5 stars. I still can't quite describe the timey wimey stuff, but that's mainly because it was so unique I had never seen it before. I don't need to fully understand this book to love it.*

The writing in this book is beautiful. It's full of emotion and it was a pleasure to listen to the audiobook. I loved the small town setting and how the Challenger Disaster sets everything in motion.

But I really struggled to understand all of the sci-fi stuff. I cou
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a deeply beautiful book (more like a 4.5 for me), although it has a promotional pitch that is perhaps misleading.

Indeed this book consists of two parallel stories: Nedda's father's science experiment going array when she is a child and flash forward scenes aboard a space ship when Nedda is older and an astronaut. What I think you DON'T get from the promotional copy is that this book is sci-fi and those elements will figure prominently into one (and ultimately both) of these plot lines.

Jessica Jeffers
May 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, edelweiss
I have super mixed feelings about this book. There were some parts of it that were incredibly well-done, but other parts of it that were a slog to get through because they were so bogged down by scientific detail. I gotta think about it a little more...
I loved how this book started, with the poem "High Flight"

“High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topp

CW: child death, depression, family violence, psoriatic arthritis and vision loss

This book is dedicated to the Hubble Space Telescope, which opened the universe to me. It is also dedicated to the teachers who did not believe a fifth-grade girl could speak knowledgeably about the Hubble Space Telescope. You remain embarrassingly wrong.

I feel the need to start my review by thanking Carla (Carla's Book Bits), since it was her review that made me request this book from NetGalley as well immediat

Carla (Carla's Book Bits)
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-faves
Just... wow. I'm speechless.

There's not much you can say about this book but that it truly understands loneliness... but it makes you feel seen and understood in it. It's hopeful, ambitious, and full of life and love.

Be aware that this might not be for everyone, and that's okay, speculative fiction rarely is. But this is a story that's ambitious, large in scope, and never talks down to the reader. This is quite heavy in science and engineering, but even a person like me, who's no closer to an ex
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of those “find a quiet place” books. The intricate vocabulary and in depth story needs your undivided attention. It is a wonderful story and Swyler is an amazing author that causes you to fall into the world like Alice. I definitely recommend this read!
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kris Waldherr
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to have read LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS as a manuscript. It moved me to tears. More to come closer to publication.
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-s, ebooks, sci-five

Set amidst the backdrop of the 1986 Challenger explosion that devastated a nation, a scientific experiment gone inconceivably wrong forever alters the lives of everyone in Nedda’s small Florida Space Coast town. Her tenuous relationship with her mother is pushed to the limit as they have to work together to try and save those they care about most from being lost to them- and to time- forever.

Then, in the future, adult Nedda is aboard a ship headed to a planet that could be the dying
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
“The wonder,” he said at last. “Any pain in my side, any blindness, even dying-they’re nothing when it comes to the wonder.” Ooh! I loved this book!

So as you all know well by now, I like to go into books blind. I want the one sentence elevator pitch and that’s it.

I went into Light From Other Stars with almost zero information regarding it’s plot. I saw “NASA” jump out on the jacket, said “Okay”, and stuck it in my bag.

At page 60 I still had absolutely no idea what this book was supposed to be
Robert Blumenthal
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely a novel of science fiction, though it is very thoughtful and very well written. It deals mostly with the field of physics, astrophysics to be more specific. It centers around the concept of the fluidity of time, which enters the realm of quantum mechanics, which is a field that is becoming more and more accepted but is still little understood. The author uses these concepts to create a touching and exciting family drama.

Nedda is 11-years-old, living near the Kennedy Space Cent
Jeri Paull
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Man, this was hard to pick a star rating for. It was an uneven read for me; started out fairly slow, then built to a five star that I couldn't wait to get back to, then some really long mathematical scientific discussions brought it down to a three, and then it ramped back up to a five, so I settled on a four. I loved the core families - I wish we could have spent more time with them and less time with the logistics of how everything worked. I also think more time could have been spent on the ga ...more
Chris Blocker
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sometimes you go into a story with a certain expectation. I approached Light from Other Stars this way. Somewhere I'd gotten the impression that this was novel was going be the mind-bending what-the-hell-just-happened I found in James Renner's The Man from Primrose Lane (if you want your mind blown, read that novel.) Light from Other Stars isn't what I expected, but it's still intriguing, intelligent, and sometimes a little fun.

Light from Other Stars takes place largely in Florida in the days af
Megan Bell
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Nedda Papas is eleven and space-obsessed in Easter, Florida, when Challenger explodes in the sky overhead, sending shockwaves through the small NASA-adjacent town. Nedda’s father, a scientist grieving the death of his infant son, the passing of his daughter’s youth, and the degeneration of his hands, has been conducting fragile and dangerous experiments, sent over the edge and altering the fabric of time in wondrous and tragic ways after Challenger’s demise. Years later, Nedda has achieved her d ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was crackers bananas. Nothing I expected to happen, happened.

If you like a book that surprises you, this is it. Erika Swyler is skilled at unraveling secrets in a way that doesn't make you hate the characters. I feel like that's a talent, because in some stories, any person who carries a secret is not seen as such a nuanced person.

In Light from Other Stars, we are split between two moments in Nedda's life - her childhood and her adulthood. In her childhood, she is in Florida with her
Ericka Clouther
This is such a beautiful and at times subtle book. It's literary science fiction, ala Le Guin. It's the love story between parents and children, and between childhood friends, and about the closest adult friends.

It's a story about a fully independent woman and why she's so independent, and how her life is full of everything that matters.

And it's about time, and how the real physics of time is so magical-seeming, and how our time in an important relationship is just a touch between two people's
Jack Thomas
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
*ARC received by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This was... strange.

I want to say first off that this just wasn’t for me, and if it wasn’t an arc, I would have DNFed it. I couldn’t get into the writing, nor the non-chronological timeline, and that threw me off. I will say that I loved Nedda as our protagonist, however she was the only character that I ever actually bonded with or related to.

The plot was strange, all-over the place, and it felt like a puzzle missing two pieces, whi
Kerry Anne King
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Utterly brilliant. I closed this book with a sense of awe, knowing it's one of those rare novels that will mark a before and after for me. The characters in this book are heart breakingly real - and Swyler has an uncanny ability to express the truth about relationships and all of the ways love simultaneously heals and hurts us. Awesome science fiction elements including space travel and time anomalies, but it was the humanity of the book, triumphant and profound, that took my breath away.
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Erika Swyler is the bestselling author of Light From Other Stars, and The Book of Speculation. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in Catapult, Literary Hub, VIDA, The New York Times, and elsewhere.

Erika lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and a petulant rabbit. She writes, bakes, is a casual runner, and has very strong feelings about typewriters.

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“Before the call buzzed in, Nedda wound her fingers in the small knot of hair at the back of Evgeni’s head. Light, scratchy—a warm steel-wool pad, but soft. She gave it a gentle tug. “See? I like you fine.” When Mission Control appeared on-screen, Evgeni was laughing. They said nothing about blindness. Nothing about energy spikes or which government made the swap from plutonium to strontium. The space between Earth and Chawla filled with all the things that could not be said.” 2 likes
“When customers asked why Betheen's baking was better than anyone else's, she forced herself to blush and say her kitchen was downwind from Prater Grove; everything had a little orange blossom in it. She did not say, 'Because I'm a chemist, asshole,' though the words always threatened to escape. Women from the Society House wanted folksy comfort. Chemistry - though it kept them alive with their heart pills, made their food sweet, and held their dentures in their mouths - was not desired, not from her.” 2 likes
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