Light from Other Stars

Light from Other Stars

by Erika Swyler


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From the author of national bestseller The Book of Speculation, a poignant, fantastical novel about the electric combination of ambition and 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 enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda's newborn brother several years before, Theo turns to the dangerous dream of extending his living daughter's childhood just a little longer. The result is an invention that alters the fabric of time.

Amidst the chaos that erupts, Nedda must confront her father and his secrets, the ramifications of which will irrevocably change her life, her community, and the entire world. But she finds an unexpected ally in Betheen, the mother she's never quite understood, who surprises Nedda by seeing her more clearly than anyone else. Decades later, Nedda has achieved her long-held dream, and as she floats in antigravity, far from earth, she and her crewmates face a serious crisis. Nedda may hold the key to the solution, if she can come to terms with her past and the future that awaits her.

Light from Other Stars is about fathers and daughters, women and the forces that hold them back, and the cost of meaningful work. It questions how our lives have changed, what progress looks like, and what it really means to sacrifice for the greater good.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635573169
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 05/07/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 40,602
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

ERIKA SWYLER is a graduate of New York University. Her short fiction has appeared in WomenArts Quarterly Journal, Litro,, and elsewhere. Her writing is featured in the anthology Colonial Comics, and her work as a playwright has received note from the Jane Chambers Award. Born and raised on Long Island's North Shore, Erika learned to swim before she could walk, and happily spent all her money at traveling carnivals. She blogs and has a baking Tumblr with a following of 60,000. Erika recently moved from Brooklyn back to her hometown, which inspired the setting of the book. The Book of Speculation is her debut novel.

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Light from Other Stars 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous 7 months ago
see above.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book is beautiful. Science, space, stars, time travel, love, and sadness in a story poetically written. This may be the best book I've ever read. I read a library version, but I'm going to purchase this book so I can read it again and again to savor every word.
LeslieLindsay 11 months ago
Shivers of wonder, a coming-of-age tale of science-fiction, that is at once introspective and speculative, LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS will transform and mesmerize From the bestselling author of THE BOOK OF SPECULATION (2015), I was intrigued to dive into Erika Swyler's second book, LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS (May 7 2019). Delightfully imaginative, and not quite like anything I've read before, this is the story of Nedda Pappas, her love of science, space, her father, and so much more. Set in dual-time periods, 1986 and some not-so-distant future, LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS is a literary slant on science fiction. Nedda is 11 years old in 1986, when the Challenger erupts and her beloved astronaut hero, Judy Resick becomes carbon, atoms, dust...she can barely go on. What happened to those astronauts? Are they still 'out there,' have they become light and energy and warmth? Nedda loves her father, a laid-off NASA scientist fiercely. But her father is struggling with his own demons, a secret he and Nedda's mother chose to keep from Nedda. Nedda has a best friend, Denny, a mother whom she doesn't entirely connect with, and a dream to be an astronaut. Yet, she has so many questions and worries and concerns. Why is her father so intent on keeping her young? And what is this secret? Nedda eventually becomes the astronaut she always wanted to be--and a good piece of LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS is set in the future, on a space shuttle, on an unnamed planet. The writing is poetic, insightful, and reflective, bringing up big issues about transformation, space-time travel, childhood, parent-child relationships, even environmentalism. There's truly something for everyone in this incredibly ambitious and well-researched, deliciously written novel. I found some similarities between childhood classic A WRINKLE IN TIME meets ELEANOR (Jason Gurley) with a touch of THE MARTIAN (Andy Weir), and also maybe a little of THE FLIGHT OF THE NAGIVATOR. Am I showing my age?! L.Lindsay|Always with a Book
HollyLovesBooks4 11 months ago
I wanted to absolutely love this book and it was okay for me. The writing is terrific and some of the story line is wonderful but not all of it. To me personally, it felt as though, a bit of the story was forced for the sake of bringing in readers who wouldn't normally choose this sort of book. I'm not sure this worked well for me. I read many different genres and don't mind them crossing but this was in need of some editing for that to work well. Evan with those issues, overall this book is a good one and worth the time. #LightFromOtherStars #NetGalley
Anonymous 12 months ago
LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS by Erika Swyler was Nothing I expected it to be but ended up being better. Set in the year of 86’ 11-year-old Nedda dreams of becoming an astronaut while watching the Challenger launch on television. Meanwhile her father former NASA physicist now college professor is grieving the death of his infant son, so he attempts to build a machine to manipulate time because is desperately wants to prolong Nedda’s childhood. In the mist of tinker with the machine the Challenger explodes in the air sending a shock wave through the small NASA-adjacent town. Split between two moments in Nedda's life there are so many secrets to unravel in this story. Being a fan of Sc-Fi reads this book fit in perfectly to my taste in the genre. Fascinating, shocking and still very much grounded in the real world, I absolutely loved everything about this book. Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
bookmon1 More than 1 year ago
A big thanks to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this beautiful book. It resonated with me on many levels and will stay in my memory a very long time. Nedda Papas is a young girl who lives in a small town on the Space Coast of Florida. She has always been fascinated with space travel. When she watches the Challenger explode on TV with her classmates , her life is forever changed. Her father Theo has been laid off from NASA, but has been working on his own project at a college lab. His machine set off events that affect not only him and Nedda's best friend, Denny, but their whole small town. Nedda does achieve her dreams of space travel, but there are many sacrifices to be made and repairs that may or may not work to get her and her crew mates to a new colony they hope to build. Although readers may tag LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS as speculative or science fiction, the story is so much more. Yes, there are a good many technical details, but through it all runs a tale of love, loss, grief and family. Time is a theme that moves throughout the story as the author takes us from 1986 to the future. There is a beautiful, lyrical quality to this novel that is missing from so many modern stories. I have not read Erika Swyler's first novel yet, but will add it to my TBR pile and look for future works by this talented writer.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler is a highly recommended coming-of-age science fiction story. The dual narrative follows two different stories set in two different time periods. In 1986, eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is living in Easter Florida, a Space Coast town, where she can't wait to grow up and become an astronaut. Theo, her father is a physicist, a college professor who was laid off from NASA, but he has an ongoing project, Crucible, that manipulates time by controlling entropy in an effort to extend Nedda's childhood. Betheen, her distant mother, is a baker and a chemist. Both of her parents, unknown to Nedda, are still mourning the loss of her brother, Michael, several years earlier. On the day after the Challenger disaster, another disaster befalls the town of Easter, which also affects Nedda's best friend Denny and her father. Nedda turns to Betheen to find a solution. In the future Nedda is an astronaut aboard the Chawla, a four-person spacecraft en route to colonize a faraway planet to save humanity. Nedda and her crew mates are facing several trials, but now are doomed if they can't find a solution to a crisis that is threatening all of their lives and the mission. Nedda's past may actually hold the answer for a way to solve their current crisis. The narrative alternates between the two time periods and the two stories, with Nedda (and by association Betheen) being the connection between the two vastly different narratives. For me, the young Nedda was the better developed character and the earlier timeline/story was much more compelling. I admittedly read the future chapters a bit faster to get back to the coming-of-age story and the disaster befalling her friend Denny and her dad Theo. It also allows the closeness of Betheen and Nedda now make more sense, and truly highlight the sacrifices that women often make for the good of everyone. The writing is very good and the two plots are compelling for their own reasons. As a long-time reader of hard science fiction, I didn't find the science intimidating, but it would be easy to breeze over it and get on with the story for those who want to do so. The greater story is the examination of progress, finding meaning in your work, sacrifices, passions, determination, and the relationships between people in various contexts - parents, children, friends. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Bloomsbury.
lee2staes More than 1 year ago
“Light from Other Stars” is filled with daydreams, compassion, heartache and sacrifice and it has a genuinely interesting plot. Nedda is a curious little girl who is in love with space and astronauts. There are two parallel stories: Nedda's father's science experiment that goes wrong when Nedda is young and future scenes on a space ship when Nedda is an older astronaut. The one thing not mentioned in the description is the fact that parts of the book is science fiction. Other than that this was a good read for me. I was fortunate to receive this novel from Netgalley as an Advance Reader Copy, in exchange for an objective review. #LightFromOtherStars #NetGalley
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In full disclosure, this is the first science fiction book I have read, and I have no good explanation to offer as to why I have never read science fiction. However, after opening LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS and devouring Swyler's novel, I thought to myself, “How silly am I? After all the science fiction movies I have gone to see, have wanted to see." Why should I have been surprised to find myself savoring Swyler’s novel LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS? A 5 STAR novel. While Swyler wrote her novel using two parallel timelines, the first beginning with Nedda as an astronaut peering out the window of her spacecraft at a universe that made her feel infinitely small, and her second timeline as an eleven-year-old girl who idolized her ex-NASA physicist mad scientist father. Nedda's father, the basement physicist who was responsible for their home town being lost from existence for a significant period. On the other hand, Nedda found her mother fascinating but frightening, due to her odd behavior. Swyler championed the movement between her two parallel storylines, and as she moved between the storylines, she did so skillfully, without pause. As Swyler moved between the two timelines, I moved with her, never feeling left behind or perplexed as I traversed back and forth between the parallel timeline shifts. LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS is a brilliant, poignant, innovative novel. Swyler very astutely joined space events and crises that were both real and fictitious. She also depicted multiple relationships and joined the human emotions of love, loss, chaos, hope, regret, fear, et cetera as done by the best authors. She integrated interactions and emotions in multiple social connections between father and daughter, mother and daughter, husband and wife, friends, neighbors, astronauts, and peers. Swyler’s character development was sensational. I applaud Swyler in her ability to present unique character emotions as artistically inerrant; feelings that passed from the character to the reader. The many non-fiction events woven into LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS, such as the technology, the Challenger exploding and killing all seven astronauts onboard in 1986, climate change, et cetera. Because I have not, until now, read science fiction. It was the non-fiction infused with the fictitious in LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS that kept me rapidly turning the pages. I also remained anxious about what would happen next. It was the anxiousness, and the uncertainty of what was coming that felt to me like mystery and suspense woven in with the science fiction and coming of age in LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS. Regardless of your preferred genre, I strongly encourage readers from all genres to read Swyler’s LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS. As I indicated at the beginning of my review, science fiction had never been a preferred reading genre of mine, but surprise, as much as I enjoyed this novel, I will be adding science fiction to my reading genres. I also hope that Swyler is inspired to write a sequel to LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS. Swyler is one hell of a writer, LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS is a breathtakingly beautifully written novel. Buy this book today. Take the remarkable journeys within this extraordinary novel, from Easter, FL to space and back. Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing, Erika Swyler and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS. - D.B. Moone
Bookwormish-Me More than 1 year ago
Do not wait to read this one. This is a book that kept me fully engaged from start to finish. I finished wanting more! Florida 1986 and the start of the Space Shuttle program. Meet Nedda. 11 years old and far smarter than her years. Nedda has grown up in the shadow of the space program, in a small town called Easter, a short way from Cape Canaveral. Her father used to work for NASA, but now teaches at the small college nearby. Her mother is a baker creating fascinating concoctions. Nedda’s best friend is Denny, the son of a 3rd generation orange grower. Prater oranges are special oranges, everyone says so. They have a variety of grapefruit that is really special. Denny doesn’t much care about the oranges, but he cares about Nedda and machines. Nedda’s parents have a secret that they’ve kept from her. A secret that has formed their future selves into what they are now. Nedda dreams of becoming an astronaut like her heroes. Nedda’s father Theo is building something in his lab at the college. Something called the Crucible that is going to change time. Something that is going to forever change Easter and the people who reside there. While this book starts with Nedda aboard a ship heading toward an unknown planet, we spend time alternating between 1986 and Nedda’s current day on the spaceship. Swyler masterfully takes us back and forth to build the story about Nedda’s past and future. How a small girl with a huge mind helped to alter history once and again. It is also about love. Love of things and people. I cannot say enough about this book. I stayed up way past my bedtime because Swyler created a world that was fascinating and frightening all at once. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Review also posted at
Ms-Hurst More than 1 year ago
As strange as this book was it felt familiar. Not as if I’d read it before. Not as one book. It had the feeling of being put together from many things I have read before. The result was a disjointeness I couldn’t overcome. I know that is not even a word, but somehow that makes it even more appropriate.