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Sharma Shields and Simeon Mills
June 1, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
Sharma Shields and Simeon Mills discuss their new novels, The Cassandra and The Obsoletes.
About The Cassandra
Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs.
Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra’s story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man’s capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.
Praise for The Cassandra
“The Cassandra feels powerfully—chillingly—relevant to our own political moment, even as it unfolds against the bleak splendor of the 1940s American West. It’s a harrowing story, beautifully told, of patriarchy and violence intertwining to make a combustible monster; and of the woman who speaks the truth about this monster, only to be dismissed as unhinged.” –Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks
“The Cassandra is a magnificent exploration of the consequences—both incredible and devastating—of human ingenuity and human intuition. This novel is full of magic and hope, even while it brings up to the light some of our darkest past.” –Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and Awayland
“The Cassandra is a fantastic achievement of unflinching honesty, psychic power, and sustained empathy. Sharma Shields’s fearless reckoning with American might at the beginning of the nuclear age closes the distance between victor and victim, historical detail and mythic truth. This fevered novel’s seer will infect you with her visions, but her moral candor will work on you long after the dream is over.” –Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek
About The Obsoletes
Fraternal twin brothers Darryl and Kanga are just like any other teenagers trying to make it through high school. They have to deal with peer pressure, awkwardness, and family drama. But there’s one closely guarded secret that sets them apart: they are robots. So long as they keep their heads down, their robophobic neighbors won’t discover the truth about them and they just might make it through to graduation.
But when Kanga becomes the star of the basketball team, there’s more at stake than typical sibling rivalry. Darryl—the worrywart of the pair—now has to work a million times harder to keep them both out of the spotlight. Though they look, sound, and act perfectly human, if anyone in their small, depressed Michigan town were to find out what they truly are, they’d likely be disassembled by an angry mob in the middle of their school gym.
Heartwarming and thrilling, Simeon Mills’s charming debut novel is a funny, poignant look at brotherhood, xenophobia, and the limits of one’s programming.
Praise for The Obsoletes
“The Obsoletes is inventive, moving, and funny. A perfectly weird and weirdly perfect novel.”— Jess Walter, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins
“What a debut! At turns endearing, funny, and imaginative, while always well written and always with weight. I predict great things for this book and the man who wrote it. A reminder that some stories feel good to read, even while addressing the big stuff. I love it.”— Josh Malerman, New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box
“Alternating between antic comedy, freak-out horror, and existential angst, The Obsoletes does the seemingly impossible: it makes the joys and terrors of adolescence seem fresh and new.”— J. Robert Lennon, author of Broken River and See You in Paradise