Elysium

A computer program etched into the atmosphere has a story to tell, the story of two people, of a city lost to chaos, of survival and love. The program’s data, however, has been corrupted. As the novel’s characters struggle to survive apocalypse, they are sustained and challenged by the demands of love in a shattered world both haunted and dangerous.

Jennifer Brissett talks at length about the novel with Julia Wade, on a videocast here.

Elizabeth Hand, acclaimed author and critic, writes: “It’s really quite difficult for me to believe it’s a first novel, it’s so good: incredibly ambitious, beautifully written, moving, and with an extremely poignant ending, not to mention that remarkable, intricate balancing act with all your various hall-of-mirrors characters.”

“Jennifer Marie Brissett has written an audacious first novel that pushes against the limits of the form. With a spiral narrative and a dance of identity and incident, she limns an array of characters and their worlds in deft strokes. Be warned that you will puzzle about the story behind the stories as you read this novel, only to discover a profound and moving answer at its conclusion. With its bold interrogation of gender, Elysium is a book like no other.”
—James Patrick Kelly, author of Wildlife and Think Like a Dinosaur

“Wow! Jenn Brissett’s new novel Elysium from Aqueduct Press is a knockout. The writing and structure of the book are so accomplished, I’m amazed this is a first novel. The style flows and draws you into the fiction and keeps you there—poetic in it’s imagery but simultaneously economical. It’s a science fiction, post-apocalyptic, tale, a love story, but not your dumb old man’s love story. A love story for a new age. The structure of the novel was the most startling thing to me—a complex construction that never comes across as complicated. The effect is like a magic trick. Great characters that make the adventure worth the journey. I hope reviewers don’t miss this one.”
—Jeffrey Ford, author of The Shadow Year and Crackpot Palace

Reviews

This is a complex, dense book, and reminds me of the best parts of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Brissett’s novel, her first, is as ambitious and experimental as those works, and I hope it receives similar attention…. What the book may lack in philosophical meditation it makes up for in emotional resonance: every character Brissett draws is, in one way or another, an emotional survivor—and a visceral one at that. The feeling of loss pervades the novel, reminding us that sometimes it’s not enough to survive, that living requires more than that in ways that only the best writers and thinkers—and stories—can describe.  (Read the whole review)
The Future Fire, Cait Coker,  Oct. 25, 2014

Brissett deftly handles the challenge of a multitude of characters all being the same people in a multitude of places that are the same place, while exploring complicated questions about identity.  (Read the whole review)
Publishers Weekly, October 2014

…follows the lives of two characters as they switch genders and lives in this haunting, surreal story about surviving at all costs…In a desperate attempt to save their loved ones from madness, decay and invaders who live in the fourth dimension, humans build underground cities, even growing wings and flying in this rich exploration of identity and memory.  (Read the whole review)
The Washington Post, Nancy Hightower,  Nov. 25, 2014

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