Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea

A wide-ranging debut collection from a writer whose musicality and humor shine through even when plumbing the darkest depths of space.

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea is one of the most anticipated sf&f collections of recent years. Pinsker has shot like a star across the firmament with stories multiply nominated for awards as well as Sturgeon and Nebula award wins.

The dozen stories gathered here including a new, previously unpublished story) turn readers into travelers to the past, the future, and explorers of the weirder points of the present. The journey is the thing as Pinsker weaves music, memory, technology, history, mystery, love, loss, and even multiple selves on generation ships and cruise ships, on highways and high seas, in murder houses and treehouses. They feature runaways, fiddle-playing astronauts, and retired time travelers; they are weird, wired, hopeful, haunting, and deeply human. They are often described as beautiful but Pinsker also knows that the heart wants what the heart wants and that is not always easy, or easy.

Read: 6 Books with Sarah Pinsker: Nerds of a Feather

Listen: Sarah on the Coode Street Podcast


“Sarah Pinsker’s debut short story collection is speculative and strange, exploring such wide-ranging scenarios as a young man receiving a prosthetic arm with its own sense of identity, a family welcoming an AI replicate of their late Bubbe into their home, or an 18th century seaport town trying to survive a visit by a pair of sirens — all while connecting them in a book that feels cohesive. The stories are insightful, funny, and imaginative, diving into the ways humans might invite technology into their relationships.”
— Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed

“This was my first time reading Pinsker, and she BLEW MY MIND. . . . These 13 stories are wildly original and, frankly, jaw-dropping. A man’s new prosthetic arm dreams that it is a road in Colorado; the dream children of childless parents sun themselves on the rocks like seals; a rock star washes up on an island, where she is rescued by a recluse. So. Many. Amazing. Stories. My favorite might be the last story, in which a bunch of Sarah Pinskers attend a writer’s conference, where one of them is murdered. Every story was unlike anything I had read before, as well as smart and fun, which is everything I want from a story collection. RUN, DON’T WALK.”
—Liberty Hardy, Bookriot

Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea is a collection where societal boundaries are both porous and rigid. To an extent, Pinsker is arguing that it’s those who exist outside of clearly designed roles are also the most perceptive about the flaws and mysteries of a given society, whether it’s a longstanding one or a temporary one that will dissipate after a certain event takes place. But, as is the case in “Our Lady of the Open Road,” she also notes that societies and cultures can often overlap, and an outsider in one society might well be an insider in another. Throughout the book, Pinsker demonstrates a virtuosity in creating lived-in worlds, but her real talent on display here is finding the ambiguous and liminal spaces within those worlds. There are no easy answers in these stories, but the questions Pinsker raises can be just as satisfying.”
— Tobias Carroll,

“Pinsker’s style is clean and intimate, rich with emotion, but not a single unearned sentiment. Her characters are lovable portraits of self-frustration: good, flawed people confronted with too much loss and liking none of their options, with a talent for creative destruction.” — Theodore McCombs, Fiction Unbound

“Sarah Pinsker’s stories nestle in the cracks of our world with strange concepts that resound emotionally with the reader.” — Sara Ramey, The Arkansas International

“The 13 stories collected here vary in length, from the almost-micro-fiction of ‘The Sewell Home for the Temporarily Displaced,’ to the novella-length ‘And Then There Were (n-1),’ a nominee for both the Hugo and Nebula last year that posits what might happen if an author (Sarah Pinsker) attended a convention for her alternate selves from alternate dimensions, and then one of them started murdering the others. The collection is worth the cover price for that story alone, to be honest; that there are a dozen others, including the moving ‘In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,’ which deals with a woman’s grief at the loss she feels after her husband’s stroke leaves him unable to talk (also a Nebula finalist), is frankly more than we deserve.” — Jeff Somers, B&N, The Best SF&F of March

“Pinsker’s stories have murder houses that speak, dream children that emerge from the sea, and a car shaped like a narwal, but the heart of this debut collection lies in its people. The women protagonists, many of whom love women, are adapting to or resisting new ways of life: a punk musician insists on playing live and driving manually while her world depends on recorded immersive experiences and self-driving cars; a girl adjusts to a robotic grandmother as she and her father leave their home country; in ‘Wind Will Rove,’ a community that left Earth long ago asks why it still holds on so tightly to Earth’s history and art and whether it should let go of it entirely in order to embrace the new. A particular highlight is ‘In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,’ a story primarily about Millie’s impeding loss of her husband, where the sf gem at its core takes a backseat to the tree house George built with his children and to the question of whether he did his best to make the world a better place. This collection from an exciting new voice in speculative fiction is both haunting and hopeful.” Booklist (starred review)

“This beautiful, complex debut collection assembles some of Nebula winner Pinsker’s best stories into a twisting journey that is by turns wild, melancholic, and unsettling. In the opening story, an injured farmer adjusts to living with a cybernetic arm that thinks it is a stretch of road in Colorado. ‘In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind’ tells the story of a woman piecing together her husband’s enigmatic past after a stroke leaves him speechless. ‘No Lonely Seafarer’ pits a stablehand against a pair of sirens as he attempts to save his town from its restless sailors. In all of Pinsker’s tales, humans grapple with their relationships to technology, the supernatural, and one another. Some, such as Ms. Clay in ‘Wind Will Rove,’ are trying to navigate the space between technology as preservation and technology as destruction. Others, such as Kima in ‘Remembery Day,’ rely on technology to live their lives. The stories are enhanced by a diverse cast of LGBTQ and nonwhite characters. Pinsker’s captivating compendium reveals stories that are as delightful and surprising to pore through as they are introspective and elegiac.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“In her debut collection, widely lauded author/musician Pinsker zips through road trips, space ships, speculative futures, and parallel presents with stories that are equal parts hard-wired sci-fi theory and hard-traveling rock-and-roll attitude. The 13 short stories that make up this collection range from near novella length—”Our Lady of the Open Road,” “Wind Will Rove,” and the phenomenal “And Then There Were (N-One)”—to the very brief—”The Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced,” which clocks in at a little under three pages. Their subject matter is equally diverse. In “A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide,” the main character’s mangled arm has been replaced with a “Brain-Computer Interface” prosthetic which believes itself to be a road somewhere in Colorado; in “The Low Hum of Her,” a family undertakes an Ellis Island-esque immigration accompanied by an AI mechanical replicate of their departed Bubbe hidden in the steamer trunk. With stories that jump from divergent pasts to possible futures and include main characters of all age ranges, genders, and social backgrounds, it would be easy for the book to become disjointed. However, Pinsker’s undeniable talent for familiarizing characters caught in deeply unfamiliar situations (a treehouse that hides an alien race’s architectural salvation; an 18th-century seaport town beset by sirens; folk musicians on a generational star ship whose destination they will not live to see) brings a uniting element of empathy to even the most far-fetched conceit. There are also similarities between the thematic preoccupations of the individual works. Pinsker’s characters are often loners dedicated to idiosyncratic artistic pursuits—like fiddling in space or building scale models of murder houses. They are stubborn adherents to codes of authenticity that their worlds have abandoned, and the stories’ plots tend to center around their revolts against conventional (or fantastical) social norms. Populated by anarchists, punks, survivalists, luddites, drifters, and rock-and-roll queers, Pinsker’s stories romp through their conceits with such winning charm that even the less successfully cohesive among them delight with their nuanced detail. In spite of being hampered slightly by a tendency to invest more in the worldbuilding than in the culmination of plot, Pinsker has delivered a sturdy collection in the speculative tradition of Ursula K. Le Guin or Kelly Link but with her own indomitable voice front and center. An auspicious start to what promises to be one wild ride of a literary career.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Yearning manifests itself into something tangible; it congeals, breathes, and breaks the barriers between dreams and reality. . . . Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea is a collection whose musing visions none should try to resist.” — Foreword Reviews (starred review)

Advance Praise

“This collection of stories is simply wonderful. Each story is generous and original; as a collection, the tales are varied, but with recurring themes of memory and music through-out. Pinsker has emerged as one of our most exciting voices and I’m glad to note that I’m not the only one who thinks so. I love this book completely.”
— Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves

“Sarah Pinsker plays genre like a favorite guitar, and I am in awe of her talents. How can a writer so new be so central, so necessary? High-concept and humane, timely and timeless, these stories are 21st-century classics.”
— Andy Duncan, author of An Agent of Utopia

Praise for Sarah Pinsker:

“Sarah Pinsker’s ‘Wind Will Rove’ is a story about the folk process, and memory, and the occasional importance of forgetting. . . . Thoughtful and quite moving.” —Rich Horton, Locus Magazine

“The last and best story in the issue, in my view, is the piece by Sarah Pinsker.” —Alastair Reynolds

“A bittersweet tale containing elements of the fantastic, but at the same time, very much rooted in real and relatable loss and pain. There is a beautiful subtlety to this story. It never hits the reader over the head with the speculative element, leaving much of that side of the story between the lines. Pinsker handles the sub- text so deftly that two full stories present themselves to the reader, even though only one is fully outlined on the page.” — A. C. Wise, SF Signal

“Beautiful, bittersweet tale. Just perfect.” — SF Revu

“This is my favorite Pinsker story to date — a thoughtful, subtle piece about the lures and traps of memory.” — , Locus

“The fine folks at Uncanny just published their first ever (short) novella in #15, and it’s wonderful. Sarah Pinsker’s story of a convention — SarahCon — for Sarah’s from thousands of alternate reality might be my favorite novella of the last several years, to be honest. It’s smart and funny and thoughtful in perfect proportions. It was enchanting from page one, and it’s a story and concept that has been often on my mind ever since I read it.” — SF Bluestocking

About the Author

Sarah Pinsker‘s stories have won the Nebula and Sturgeon awards, and have been finalists for the Hugo, the Locus, and the Eugie Foster Memorial Award. Her first novel, Song For A New Day, will be published in autumn 2019. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth she swears will be released someday soon. She was born in New York and has lived all over the US and Canada, but currently lives with her wife in Baltimore in a hundred-year-old house surrounded by sentient vines. @sarahpinsker

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