When thirteen year old Nova Allan discovers a photograph taken by her grandfather is drifting through interstellar space on the Voyager Golden Record, she realizes there are things she never knew about him or the secrets he kept. As she delves deeper into her family’s past, her grandmother trails after Nova like the tail of a comet. At first Nova thinks she’s seeing a ghost–after all, Grandma Elaine died as a young woman decades before Nova’s birth. But Grandma Elaine has another explanation: Nova is voyaging from her own time to the 1970s, skipping through the years like a needle on a record.
Back in the ‘70s, everyone thinks Grandma Elaine is crazy. She keeps sobbing about a missing child, Lyra. Family records say that Lyra drowned, but Nova uncovers Grandpa Bertie’s darkest deception: Lyra got lost in time and her disappearance was framed as a death. If Nova can voyage to the past and bring Lyra home, she’ll be able to save her grandmother’s sanity and change her family’s future–but bringing Lyra home won’t be easy, and it could have unintended consequences that ripple through the generations.
AMONG THE COSMOS is a speculative middle grade novel of 54,000 words. It is told in a non-linear fashion that is similar to THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (Netflix adaptation). It will appeal to fans of OTHERWOOD by Pete Hautman and readers who are fascinated by Carl Sagan and the Voyager Golden Record.
I live in Utah with my husband and four children. This story was inspired in part by my own grandfather’s contribution of a photograph of a human fetus on the Voyager Golden Record in 1977.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
It was five o’clock when Nova left the eye doctor, and traffic was picking up. Her eyes were dilated to black holes and the edges of the world blurred together behind the thick lenses of her glasses. Her bike wobbled as she bumped against a curb. Cars streamed past, the headlights ribbons of light in the deepening dusk. By the time she made it home, the sun was nearly down.
Nova’s house had a wide front porch that overlooked Lake Michigan. She sat on the steps, the great rolling blue of the water turning to burnished copper as the sun met the edge of the lake. Her sweater collected tiny beads of moisture from the mist that rolled ashore in the swelling wind.
“Dinner,” Mom said, opening the door.
Nova put the heels of her hands against her eyes, pressing until she saw stars, and followed her mother inside. The house smelled like cinnamon and cloves from the pantry, wood shavings and Elmer’s glue from the basement. She paused in the doorway of the office. If she closed her eyes, she could almost see Grandpa Bertie at the desk.
After six months, Nova still wasn’t used to the empty chair at the dinner table where Grandpa Bertie had once sat. And now that her older sister Stella was at college, Stella’s chair next to their brother Leo was empty as well.
“How was the eye doctor?” Mom passed Nova a basket of rolls wrapped in a dish towel. Nova shifted the rolls from side to side, looking for the biggest one. “And don’t do that, just take what you touch, please.”
“It was fine.” Nova shrugged. “Same as it always is.” She had gotten used to the monthly appointments and the eye drops and the lights that danced across her vision. “Look what I found in the waiting room–” Leaning out of her seat, she grabbed a copy of Time magazine that she had stuffed in her backpack at the eye doctor. Rifling through the pages, she found an article topped by a photograph of a golden disc. What Humanity Wants Aliens to Know About Us: the Voyager Golden Record.
“What’s the Voyager Golden Record?” Leo swallowed his roll in two bites and seized another one.
“The Voyager is a spacecraft that was launched forty years ago,” Nova explained. “It carries a record that holds sounds and photographs of life on Earth–so if anything ever finds it, they’ll be able to see what humans are like. Werelike, actually, it’ll probably outlast humankind. And look–” Nova tapped a photograph of a fetus. “This is one of the photographs that was included–and it says Dr. Bertram Allan under it.”
The fetus had translucent pink skin with a web of blue veins and a vaguely alien look, floating against a background of black, its umbilical cord trailing out of the frame.
Leo reached for the magazine and studied the photograph, frowning. “You think it means Grandpa?”