In a secular world, this collection of intriguing and thought-provoking stories, of the interaction between the mundane and the divine, marks a welcome return by the author Sapphira Olson. Allegories that link future and past with imagination reaching out beyond the horizon, intended to help illuminate the meaning of one’s life to the reader. “As humans we are propelled forward by our emotions and our subconscious, however much we like to think the rational part of us is the captain of our ship. It is to that emotional core of you that I offer up these parables. They are an imaginary fictional space into which I invite you to step. … imagined possibilities full of truth, excitement and discovery.”
Sapphira Olson’s first public recognition came as one of the protagonists in An Android Awakes, published in 2015. In 2018, Fictional Alignment by author Mike French recounted the tragic events that led to the Altostratus disaster and Sapphira’s subsequent abduction by zealots, acting on behalf of the self-styled Bureau for Fictional Alignment, as a direct result of the success of her book Humans (An Assortment of Minor Defects). As the increasingly bizarre sequence of incidents staged by her abductors played out, she met, fell in love with, and eventually married the explorer Umberto Amundsen. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the whole experience caused Sapphira to re-assess the meaning of existence, so she, and Umberto, withdrew from public life for a few years. The result is Parables, her first new work since her father’s death.
Cover artwork by Umberto Amundsen
Sapphira Zhanna Olson is the author of the bestselling novel Humans (An Assortment of Minor Defects). Born in Bryansk, Russia, Sapphira is half Russian and half American, her father being born in Minnesota. Tragedy struck early in her life with the death of her twin sister when she was only six weeks old and then again with the tragic loss of her father in the Altostratus disaster.
After the global success of Humans, Sapphira withdrew from public life for a number of years and Parables is her first work since then. When not writing, she spends her time scuba diving and exploring, with her husband, the cold wastelands of Antarctica.
Readers first met Sapphira in the 2015 ground-breaking An Android Awakes collaboration between author Mike French and artist Karl Brown. In that book, a satire set in the fashionably-predicted future where Artificial Intelligence has replaced humans as the source of culture, Android Writer PD121928 attempts to have a novel published but is only allowed 42 rejected submissions before being terminated. In 2018, in Mike French's Fictional Alignment, we discovered that Sapphira, who had been in love with the android writer, wrote Humans (An Arrangement of Minor Defects) based on the stories PD121928 told her on the night they first met. Published by the Altostratus publishing house in 2283, and marketed as the first work of fiction by a human for over a hundred years, Humans was a bestseller. As a result, a handful of zealot androids massacred the Senate and formed a new regime fuelled with a passion to eradicate the evil of fiction from android society. Unable to remove the impact of Sapphira's novel, they kidnapped Sapphira and forced her to work with an oddball team travelling back in time to enact the events of the stories in her book - thus ensuring that they were historical records rather than fiction: the ultimate implementation of fake news.
Fifteen years ago, in Mitch Albom’s beloved novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the world fell in love with Eddie, a grizzled war veteran- turned-amusement park mechanic who died saving the life of a young girl named Annie. Eddie’s journey to heaven taught him that every life matters. Now, in this magical sequel, Mitch Albom reveals Annie’s story.
The accident that killed Eddie left an indelible mark on Annie. It took her left hand, which needed to be surgically reattached. Injured, scarred, and unable to remember why, Annie’s life is forever changed by a guilt-ravaged mother who whisks her away from the world she knew. Bullied by her peers and haunted by something she cannot recall, Annie struggles to find acceptance as she grows. When, as a young woman, she reconnects with Paulo, her childhood love, she believes she has finally found happiness.
As the novel opens, Annie is marrying Paulo. But when her wedding night day ends in an unimaginable accident, Annie finds herself on her own heavenly journey—and an inevitable reunion with Eddie, one of the five people who will show her how her life mattered in ways she could not have fathomed.
Poignant and beautiful, filled with unexpected twists, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven reminds us that not only does every life matter, but that every ending is also a beginning—we only need to open our eyes to see it.
From the brilliant and award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin comes a classic tale of two planets torn apart by conflict and mistrust — and the man who risks everything to reunite them.
A bleak moon settled by utopian anarchists, Anarres has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras—a civilization of warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.
To visit Urras—to learn, to teach, to share—will require great sacrifice and risks, which Shevek willingly accepts. But the ambitious scientist's gift is soon seen as a threat, and in the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.