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Extended Audio Sample Dark Orbit, by Carolyn Ives Gilman Click for printable size audiobook cover
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From Nebula and Hugo Award–nominated Carolyn Ives Gilman comes Dark Orbit, a compelling novel of alien contact, mystery, and murder.

Reports of a strange, new habitable world have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Thora was once a member of the interplanetary elite, but since her prophetic delusions helped mobilize a revolt on Orem, she’s been banished to the farthest reaches of space to minimize the risk her very presence may pose.

Upon arrival, the team finds an extraordinary crystalline planet laden with dark matter. Then a crew member is murdered, and Thora mysteriously disappears. Thought to be uninhabited, the planet is in fact home to a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with a bizarre vocabulary and extrasensory perceptions.

Lost in the deep crevasses of the planet among these people, Thora must battle her demons and learn to comprehend the native inhabitants in order to find her crewmates and warn them of an impending danger. But her most difficult task may be persuading the crew that some powers lie beyond the boundaries of science.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Dark Orbit is intellectually daring, brilliantly imagined, strongly felt. This one’s a winner.”

    Ursula K. Le Guin, Hugo and Nebula award–winning author

  • “In Dark Orbit exoethnologist Sara Callicut joins a team of scientists on a mission to a newly discovered, possibly habitable planet dubbed Iris, where things go wonky in a terrible hurry…Gilman manages to tie it all together in a satisfying way though, thanks mainly to a thrilling plot structured around the conflict between science and more intuitional ways of thinking.”

    Toronto Star

  • “Gilman has artfully conceived and depicted her world, from the futuristic society marked by tensions among various planets, social castes, and corporations; to the planet of Iris, with its mesmerizing, crystalline botanical life forms and strange gravitational disturbances; to the intricate way of life of the native inhabitants…It’s riveting and has a lot of promise…The ethical, philosophical, and scientific dilemmas presented in this book are fascinating.”

    New York Daily News

  • “Consistently gripping and moving. Gilman manages to both dig deep into some pretty abstract and philosophically compelling ideas while writing a hell of a ‘first contact’ narrative and also touching on issues that are very much alive in our lives today.”

    RT Book Reviews (4½ stars, Top Pick!)

  • “Gripping…Gilman has created a breathtakingly strange new world, and she’s populated it with vivid, compelling characters. A thoroughly engrossing story with a fast-paced plot, memorable characters, and big ideas, this book is science fiction at its very best.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Blending mystery, philosophy, and science gracefully in a twisty plot, Gilman has written a challenging but ultimately satisfying space adventure that explores how the most basic preconceptions can distort our outlook. It’s a winner for any sf fan, of special appeal to those with interests in epistemology, ethics, or physics.”

    Library Journal

  • “The delight of discovery should be what all SF is about, but few authors are ambitious enough to tackle a theme that big. Gilman is, she does, and the result is a masterpiece.”

    Karl Schroeder, Hugo-nominated author

  • “What a breath of fresh, invigorating air this novel is, full of surprises, delights, and challenging perspectives at every turn.”

    Suzy McKee Charnas, Nebula-nominated author

  • Dark Orbit does what good science fiction should do: it tells readers of a distant future in which we see our present…Gilman’s characters are delightfully imagined. The cultural wellspring from which Gilman drafts the future of humanity is deep and lush. She delves into thought-provoking speculative science one expects alongside philosophy as ancient as Plato’s cave. Dark Orbit is a stimulating and absorbing story.”

    Shelf Awareness

  • A Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015 Selection for Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2015 Selection for Science Fiction and Fantasy
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About the Author

Carolyn Ives Gilman is a Nebula and Hugo Award–nominated writer of science fiction and fantasy. Her novels include Halfway Human and the duology Isles of the Forsaken and Ison of the Isles. Her short fiction appears in many “best of the year” collections and has been translated into seven languages. She lives in Washington, DC, where she works for the National Museum of the American Indian.