Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel

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9780812988192: Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel

For readers of Station Eleven and The Snow Child, Lily Brooks-Dalton’s haunting debut is the unforgettable story of two outsiders—a lonely scientist in the Arctic and an astronaut trying to return to Earth—as they grapple with love, regret, and survival in a world transformed.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SHELF AWARENESS AND THE CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS · COLSON WHITEHEAD'S FAVORITE BOOK OF 2016 (Esquire)

Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes that the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone.

At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success. But when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crewmates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home.

As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives? Lily Brooks-Dalton’s captivating debut is a meditation on the power of love and the bravery of the human heart.

Praise for Good Morning, Midnight

“Stunningly gorgeous . . . The book contemplates the biggest questions—What is left at the end of the world? What is the impact of a life’s work?”Portland Mercury 

“A beautifully written, sparse post-apocalyptic novel that explores memory, loss and identity . . . Fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora will appreciate the Brooks-Dalton’s exquisite exploration of relationships in extreme environments.”The Washington Post
 
“Ambitious . . . Brooks-Dalton’s prose lights up the page in great swathes, her dialogue sharp and insightful, and the high-concept plot drives a story of place, elusive love, and the inexorable yearning for human contact.”—Publishers Weekly

“Beautiful descriptions create a sense of wonder and evoke feelings of desolation. . . . Brooks-Dalton’s heartfelt debut novel unfolds at a perfect pace as it asks readers what will be left when everything in the world is gone.”—Booklist

Good Morning, Midnight is a remarkable and gifted debut novel. Lily Brooks-Dalton is an uncanny chronicler of desolate spaces, whether it’s the cold expanse of the universe or the deepest recesses of the human heart.”—Colson Whitehead

“With imagination, empathy, and insight into unchanged and unchangeable human nature, Lily Brooks-Dalton takes us on an emotional journey in this beautiful debut.”—Yiyun Li

“A truly original novel, otherworldly and profoundly human . . . Good Morning, Midnight is a fascinating story, surprising and inspiring at every turn.”—Keith Scribner

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Lily Brooks-Dalton was born and raised in southern Vermont. She is also the author of the memoir Motorcycles I’ve Loved, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award.
From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

One

When the sun finally returned to the Arctic Circle and stained the gray sky with blazing streaks of pink, Augustine was outside, waiting. He hadn’t felt natural light on his face in months. The rosy glow spilled over the horizon and seeped into the icy blue of the tundra, casting indigo shadows across the snow. The dawn climbed like a wall of hungry fire, delicate pink deepening to orange, then crimson, consuming the thick layers of cloud one at a time until the entire sky was burning. He basked in its muted glow, his skin tingling.
The overcast sky was unusual for the spring season. The observatory’s site had been chosen for its clear weather, the thin polar atmosphere, and the elevation of the Cordillera Mountains. Augie left the concrete steps of the observatory and followed the path carved into the steep slope of the mountain—-down to the cluster of outbuildings nestled against the mountain’s incline, then beyond them. By the time he’d passed the last outbuilding the sun had already begun to sink, the color to fade. The day had come and gone in ten minutes—-less, perhaps. Snow--covered peaks rolled all the way to the northern horizon. To the south, the low, smooth expanse of the tundra flowed into the distance. On his best days the blank canvas of the landscape set him at ease; on his worst he contemplated madness. The land did not care for him and there was nowhere else to go. He wasn’t sure yet which sort of day today was.
In a different life he used to pack his soft leather suitcase whenever his environment rejected him, as it often did, and find another place to go. It wasn’t even a very large suitcase, but it contained the essentials of his existence neatly, with a little room to spare. There was never a need for moving trucks, or bubble wrap, or farewell parties. When he decided to go, he was gone within the week. From a postgraduate fellowship in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile where he cut his teeth on dying stars, to South Africa, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, New Mexico, Australia—-following the most advanced telescopes, the biggest satellite arrays, like bread crumbs scattered across the globe. The less earthly interference there was, the better. It had always been this way for Augustine.
Continents and countries meant nothing to him; it was only the sky that moved him, the happenings on the other side of the atmospheric window. His work ethic was strong, his ego engorged, his results groundbreaking, but he wasn’t satisfied. He had never been satisfied and never would be. It wasn’t success he craved, or even fame, it was history: he wanted to crack the universe open like a ripe watermelon, to arrange the mess of pulpy seeds before his dumbfounded colleagues. He wanted to take the dripping red fruit in his hands and quantify the guts of infinity, to look back into the dawn of time and glimpse the very beginning. He wanted to be remembered.
Yet here he was, seventy--eight years old, at the top of the Arctic archipelago, on the rind of civilization—and, having come to the terminus of his life’s work, all he could do was stare into the bleak face of his own ignorance.
 
The Barbeau Observatory was built as an extension of the mountain. The blunt fist of the telescope’s dome rose defiantly higher than anything else for miles, surveying the rest of the mountain range like a warden. There was an airstrip and a hangar about a kilometer south, where the tundra had been packed and smoothed by a bulldozer airlifted from Greenland, marked with reflective orange flags and lined with lights that didn’t work anymore. The hangar was empty, the strip neglected. The last planes to use them had come to collect the researchers from the outpost, and the last news from civilization, over a year ago, had been of war.
The outpost was stocked to last a dozen researchers for nine months: barrels of fuel, nonperishable food, purified water, medical supplies, guns and fishing gear, cross--country skis and crampons and climbing ropes. There was more research equipment than Augie could use, more incoming data than he could process in a dozen lifetimes. He was more or less content with the way things were. The observatory was the focal point of the outpost, in the center of the scattered dorms, storage units, and rec buildings. Its structure was the most permanent thing about the base—-after all, the massive telescope it housed was the reason everything else was there. The outbuildings that surrounded the observatory were hardly buildings at all, more like weatherproof tents for eating, drinking, sleeping, and storage. Barbeau’s standard research fellowship lasted between six and nine months, but Augustine had stayed for almost two years before the evacuation. Now it was nearly three years that he’d been here. The program drew a collection of young, bold men, often fresh out of their PhD programs, impatient to shrug off the close quarters of academia, at least for a while, before they let it encircle them for good. Augustine had despised these bookbound researchers, all theory and little or no practical skill. Then again, he would have been hard-pressed to name someone he didn’t despise.
Squinting at the horizon, he could just make out the sinking orb of the sun through the thick cloud cover, sliced in half by the jagged outline of the Cordillera Mountains. It was a little past noon, in late March. Polar night had finally passed over this desolate patch of earth, and now the day would gradually return. It would begin slowly, a few hours of light at a time, peeking over the skyline. But soon enough the midnight sun would rise and the stars would fade. By the end of summer’s brightness he would welcome the twilit days of autumn, then the blue--black of winter, but for now he couldn’t imagine a more comforting view than the melted outline of the sun, roosting close to the horizon, its light spilling down onto the low--lying tundra.
In Michigan, where Augustine had grown up, winter came softly: the powder of the first snow, the pillowy drifts, icicles that grew long and sharp, then began to drip drip pour into a gush of spring. Here, everything was hard. Bleak. As unforgiving as the edge of a diamond, with great shelves of ice that never melted and the ground that never thawed. As the remaining light faded from the noon sky, he watched a polar bear lope across one of the mountain ridges, heading toward the sea to hunt. Augie wished he could climb into its thick skin and sew it shut behind him. He imagined what it would feel like: looking down a long snout at paws the size of serving platters, rolling onto his back and feeling a thousand pounds of muscle and fat and fur press into the frozen ground. Pulling a ringed seal from its breathing hole and killing it with one powerful swipe, burying his teeth in its flesh, ripping away steaming chunks of blubber and then falling asleep in a clean, white snowdrift: sated. No thoughts—-just instincts. Just hunger and sleepiness. And desire, if it was the right time of year, but never love, never guilt, never hope. An animal built for survival, not reflection. The idea almost made him smile, but Augustine was not in the habit of bending his mouth in that direction.
He didn’t understand love any better than the bear did. He never had. In the past, he’d felt the nibble of a lesser emotion—-shame or regret or resentment or envy—-but whenever that happened, he would turn his gaze to the sky and let awe wash it away. Only the cosmos inspired great feeling in him. Perhaps what he felt was love, but he’d never consciously named it. His was an all--consuming one--directional romance with the emptiness and the fullness of the entire universe. There was no room to spare, no time to waste on a lesser lover. He preferred it that way.
The closest he’d ever come to letting his adoration rest on human shoulders was a long time ago. He was in his thirties when he impregnated a beautiful woman with a razor--sharp mind at the research facility in Socorro, New Mexico. She was another scientist, a PhD candidate finishing her dissertation, and the first time he met her, Augustine thought she was extraordinary. He’d felt a warm spark for the idea of their baby when she told him the news, like the flicker of a newborn star six billion light-years away. Tangible, beautiful, but already dying by the time it reached him, an afterglow. It wasn’t enough. He tried to persuade the woman to have an abortion, and he left the hemisphere when she refused. He kept to the other side of the equator for years, unable to bear the proximity of a child he didn’t have the capacity to love. Time passed, and he eventually troubled himself to learn the child’s name, her birthday. He sent an expensive amateur telescope when she turned five, a celestial sphere when she turned six, a signed first edition of Cosmos by Carl Sagan when she turned seven. He forgot her birthday the next year, but sent more books, advanced tomes on practical astronomy, for her ninth and tenth. Then he lost track of her—-of them both. The chunk of moon rock intended for her next birthday, which he’d finagled from the geology department at one of his many research posts, was returned to him labeled Invalid Address. He shrugged it off and decided not to go looking again. This game with the gifts had been unwise, a sentimental stutter in an otherwise logical life. After that, he thought of the extraordinary woman and her child rarely, and eventually he forgot them altogether.
The polar bear ambled down the other side of the mountain and was lost to view, swallowed by the snow. Augie slouched deeper into the hood of his parka, cinching the drawstrings tighter around his neck. A frigid wind blasted through him. He closed his eyes, felt the crisp frost in his nostrils, the numb shuffle of his toes deep inside wool socks and heavy boots. His hair and beard had turned white thirty years ago, but a sprinkling of black hairs across his chin and neck persisted, as if he’d left the job of aging half--finished and moved on to another project. He had been old for years now, closer to death than to birth, unable to walk as far or stand as long as he used to, but that winter in particular he’d begun to feel very old. Ancient. As though he was beginning to shrink, his spine slowly curling in on itself, his bones huddling closer together. He began to lose track of time, which wasn’t unusual in the endless dark of winter, but also of his own thoughts. He would come to, as though from a dream, uncertain what he’d been thinking a moment ago, where he’d been walking, what he’d been doing. He tried to imagine what would become of Iris when he was gone. Then he stopped himself. Instead, he tried not to care.
 
When he returned to the control tower the color in the sky had faded to a deep twilit blue. He shouldered open the heavy steel door with enormous effort. It was more difficult than it had been last year. With each season that passed, his body seemed more breakable. The wind slammed the door behind him. To save fuel he heated only the top floor of the observatory: one long room, where he kept all of his most prized instruments, and where he and Iris slept. A few comforts from the lower floors and the outbuildings had been relocated there: two induction hot plates, a nest made of sleeping bags and lumpy single mattresses, a scant assortment of dishes and pans and cutlery, an electric kettle. Augie had to rest on each step as he climbed. When he reached the third floor, he shut the stairwell door behind him to keep in the warmth. He shed his winter layers slowly, hanging every piece from a long row of hooks on the wall. Too many hooks for one man. He gave each mitten its own peg, unwrapped his scarf and hung that too, spreading his clothes along the coat rack. Perhaps this was to make the room seem less empty—-filling the space around him with traces of himself so that the howling loneliness wasn’t quite so obvious. A few flannels hung at the other end, a pair of long johns, some thick sweaters. He struggled with the toggles on his parka, then with the zipper. Hung that up too.
Iris was nowhere in sight. She spoke rarely, though she hummed quietly on occasion, melodies of her own composition that seemed to rise and fall with the sound of the wind against the dome above them: the environmental orchestra. He paused and listened for her, but there was nothing. More often than not, Augustine didn’t see her because she wasn’t moving, and so he scanned the room carefully, watching for the subtle blink of an eye, listening for the slight sound of her breath. It was just the two of them at the observatory, and the telescope, and the tundra. The last of the civilian researchers had been flown back to the nearest military base almost a year ago, and from there had returned to wherever they belonged so that they might rejoin their families. Something catastrophic was happening in the outside world, but that was all anyone would say. The other researchers didn’t question their rescuers—-they packed in a hurry and did what the evac team told them to do, but Augustine didn’t want to leave.
The Air Force unit that had arrived to transport the scientists home gathered everyone in the director’s office before they started packing up the base. The captain read out the names of all the researchers and gave them instructions on when and how to board the Herc waiting on the runway.
“I won’t be going,” Augustine said when his name was called. One of the military personnel laughed. There were a few sighs from the scientists. No one took him seriously at first. But Augustine had no intention of budging. He wasn’t going to be herded onto the plane like livestock—-his work was here. His life was here. He would manage just fine without the others, and he would leave when he was good and ready.
“There won’t be a return trip, sir,” the captain said, already impatient. “Anyone left on this base will be marooned. You either come with us now, or you don’t come at all.”
“I understand,” Augustine said. “And I’m not going.”
The captain searched Augustine’s face and saw only a crazy old man, crazy enough to mean what he was saying. He had the look of a wild animal: bared teeth, bristling facial hair, and an unblinking stare. The captain had too much to do as it was and no time for reasoning with the unreasonable. Too many other people to worry about, too much equipment to transport, not enough time. He ignored Augustine and finished the meeting, but as the other researchers disbanded, hurrying off to pack their things, the captain pulled him aside.
“Mr. Lofthouse,” he said, his voice level but unmistakably hostile. “This is a mistake. I’m not going to force an old man onto an airplane, but believe you me, no one is kidding around about the consequences. There is no return trip.”
“Captain,” Augustine said, brushing the man’s hand away from where it rested on his arm, “I understand. Now back the fuck off.”
The captain shook his head and watched as Augustine stalked away, slamming the door to the director’s office. Augie retreated to the top floor of the observatory and stood at the south--facing windows. Below, the other scientists scurried between tents and outbuildings, hauling packs and suitcases, their arms full of books and equipment and keepsakes. A few heavily loaded snowmobiles sped u...

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Book Description Random House Trade, 2017. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. For readers of Station Eleven and The Snow Child, Lily Brooks-Dalton s haunting debut is the unforgettable story of two outsiders--a lonely scientist in the Arctic and an astronaut trying to return to Earth--as they grapple with love, regret, and survival in a world transformed. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SHELF AWARENESS AND THE CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS - COLSON WHITEHEAD S FAVORITE BOOK OF 2016 (Esquire) Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes that the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone. At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success. But when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crewmates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home. As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives? Lily Brooks-Dalton s captivating debut is a meditation on the power of love and the bravery of the human heart. Praise for Good Morning, Midnight Stunningly gorgeous . . . The book contemplates the biggest questions--What is left at the end of the world? What is the impact of a life s work? --Portland Mercury A beautifully written, sparse post-apocalyptic novel that explores memory, loss and identity . . . Fans of Emily St. John Mandel s Station Eleven and Kim Stanley Robinson s Aurora will appreciate the Brooks-Dalton s exquisite exploration of relationships in extreme environments. --The Washington Post Ambitious . . . Brooks-Dalton s prose lights up the page in great swathes, her dialogue sharp and insightful, and the high-concept plot drives a story of place, elusive love, and the inexorable yearning for human contact. --Publishers Weekly Beautiful descriptions create a sense of wonder and evoke feelings of desolation. . . . Brooks-Dalton s heartfelt debut novel unfolds at a perfect pace as it asks readers what will be left when everything in the world is gone. --Booklist Good Morning, Midnight is a remarkable and gifted debut novel. Lily Brooks-Dalton is an uncanny chronicler of desolate spaces, whether it s the cold expanse of the universe or the deepest recesses of the human heart. --Colson Whitehead With imagination, empathy, and insight into unchanged and unchangeable human nature, Lily Brooks-Dalton takes us on an emotional journey in this beautiful debut. --Yiyun Li A truly original novel, otherworldly and profoundly human . . . Good Morning, Midnight is a fascinating story, surprising and inspiring at every turn. --Keith Scribner. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780812988192

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Book Description Softcover. Book Condition: New. For readers of Station Eleven and The Snow Child, Lily Brooks-Dalton’s haunting debut is the unforgettable story of two outsiders—a lonely scientist in the Arctic and an astronaut trying to return to Earth—as they grapple with love, regret, and survival in a world transformed. Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes that the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone. At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success. But when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crewmates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home. As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives? Lily Brooks-Dalton’s captivating debut is a meditation on the power of love and the bravery of the human heart. Advance praise for Good Morning, Midnight "Good Morning, Midnight is a remarkable and gifted debut novel. Lily Brooks-Dalton is an uncanny chronicler of desolate spaces, whether it’s the cold expanse of the universe or the deepest recesses of the human heart."—Colson Whitehead "What does it mean to be isolated from the ordinariness of the everyday world, yet to find the extraordinariness of being close to another human being? With imagination, empathy, and insight into unchanged and unchangeable human nature, Lily Brooks-Dalton takes us on an emotional journey in this beautiful debut."—Yiyun Li "A truly original novel, otherworldly and profoundly human . . . This beautiful story reminds us of our deep longing for connection—with those we love, with strangers, with ourselves. We come to understand that, across time and distance, in the face of isolation and emptiness, it is tenderness and communication that keep us tethered to each other. Good Morning, Midnight is a fascinating story, surprising and inspiring at every turn."—Keith ScribnerFrom the Hardcover edition. Bookseller Inventory # 5645268

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Book Description Random House Trade, 2017. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. For readers of Station Eleven and The Snow Child, Lily Brooks-Dalton s haunting debut is the unforgettable story of two outsiders--a lonely scientist in the Arctic and an astronaut trying to return to Earth--as they grapple with love, regret, and survival in a world transformed. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SHELF AWARENESS AND THE CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS - COLSON WHITEHEAD S FAVORITE BOOK OF 2016 (Esquire) Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes that the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone. At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success. But when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crewmates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home. As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives? Lily Brooks-Dalton s captivating debut is a meditation on the power of love and the bravery of the human heart. Praise for Good Morning, Midnight Stunningly gorgeous . . . The book contemplates the biggest questions--What is left at the end of the world? What is the impact of a life s work? --Portland Mercury A beautifully written, sparse post-apocalyptic novel that explores memory, loss and identity . . . Fans of Emily St. John Mandel s Station Eleven and Kim Stanley Robinson s Aurora will appreciate the Brooks-Dalton s exquisite exploration of relationships in extreme environments. --The Washington Post Ambitious . . . Brooks-Dalton s prose lights up the page in great swathes, her dialogue sharp and insightful, and the high-concept plot drives a story of place, elusive love, and the inexorable yearning for human contact. --Publishers Weekly Beautiful descriptions create a sense of wonder and evoke feelings of desolation. . . . Brooks-Dalton s heartfelt debut novel unfolds at a perfect pace as it asks readers what will be left when everything in the world is gone. --Booklist Good Morning, Midnight is a remarkable and gifted debut novel. Lily Brooks-Dalton is an uncanny chronicler of desolate spaces, whether it s the cold expanse of the universe or the deepest recesses of the human heart. --Colson Whitehead With imagination, empathy, and insight into unchanged and unchangeable human nature, Lily Brooks-Dalton takes us on an emotional journey in this beautiful debut. --Yiyun Li A truly original novel, otherworldly and profoundly human . . . Good Morning, Midnight is a fascinating story, surprising and inspiring at every turn. --Keith Scribner. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780812988192

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