Charlie Jane Anders
The City in the Middle of the Night
Tor Books 2019
Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night (Tor Books, 2019) is a coming of age story about Sophie, a young woman trying to forge her identity on a planet of rigid social classes, harsh climate and frightening aliens.
Feeling hopelessly out of place, Sophie ventures where no human has gone before: into the half of the planet that’s shrouded in perpetual night. There she befriends the native inhabitants, the Gelet; they’re fearsome tentacled creatures whom humans fear and hunt but who turn out to be sensitive, sentient, and able to communicate with Sophie through touch.
Ultimately, Sophie comes to recognize that the Gelet “belong on this planet … in a way that humans don’t,” Anders says.
Anders, whose previous work has earned Hugo, Nebula, William H. Crawford, Theodore Sturgeon, Locus and Lambda Literary awards, is an advocate for the power of science fiction to help humans prepare for the future. “You can explore a lot of scenarios in science fiction that help people develop flexibility and hope and resilience and an awareness of the value of cooperation,” Anders says.
Anders wrote The City in the Middle of the Night the old-fashioned way: in journals longhand. “I find it freeing in some ways because you can’t go back and edit as much, and you just have to get stuff down. When you type it all up, that’s the time when you start thinking about changing it, moving stuff around.”