Science-fiction, climate change converge in thrilling debut novel seeking to rediscover Earth’s beauty in wake of disaster.
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — Bridging the generational and cultural divide, physician Sam Stea’s debut novel imagines new solutions to the greatest global crisis of our time: climate change. “The Edge of Elsewhere” (Sept. 8, 2020), is a thrilling science meets climate-fiction adventure that follows refugees from the not-too-distant future in a race against time.
In a world reeling from ecological collapse, Abbey Lane’s waking life is a bleak routine. Between protecting her asthmatic older brother, Paul, and scouring gloomy ruins of Princeton with her best friend, Max, Abbey’s world couldn’t be more different from the technicolor eden she imagines in her dreams. But after discovering an old scientific notebook in the ruins of Princeton University, the trio find themselves in a world and a time they could never have imagined: New York City, 1971. There, they rediscover the beauty of the natural world, and meet a tragic music legend whose fate may hold the key to Earth’s destiny.
Born from his experience in the health care industry and his passion for literature, film, and music, Stea crafts an earnest coming-of-age story about the resilience of the human spirit in the wake of the most extreme circumstances.
Q & A with Sam Stea
- What inspired you to write “The Edge of Elsewhere”?
“The Edge of Elsewhere” was inspired by my need to lend my hand to the climate crisis, which I see as the greatest health issue of the 21st century. With my busy medical practice, I cannot serve as an effective climate activist. But I can write. In my free time, I write. And I know the power of a good story.
- How has your work as a physician informed you as a writer?
Each patient is locked in their own story. I don’t know the end, but I can, I hope, impart something to them — call it wisdom or simply keeping them human along with myself along the way. But to see them rise from the ashes! That is something. A patient getting a long-awaited transplant. Or someone recovering from critical illness. The hope and despair, frailty and strength — these simple things I see in them inspired me to write this book. It is mostly written for them, my patients.
- What role do you think health care providers should play in addressing the climate crisis?
Health care providers need to lead us out of this climate mess. We must serve as the bridge between the hard climate scienctists and the public. We still retain the public’s trust — for now. I cannot understand this disconnect and cognitive dissonance. Not acknowledging the climate crisis for what it is, a growing existential threat to human health and survival, goes against everything physicians have sworn to uphold.
- What do you think future generations will think about our actions on the climate?
Future generations will curse us if we fail to act, if we fail to break out of our simple, blissful complacency. In “Elsewhere,” we (those alive in the here and now) are called “sleepwalkers,” the seemingly ignorant and apathetic masses whose lack of action is incomprehensible to their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
- What do you hope readers take away from “The Edge of Elsewhere”?
That they can see things differently, cherish the simple things, like clean water, a flock of birds, sunlight, or a cool breeze. If they can hold their children and think about their future just a bit more, that’s what I hope for. It’s all up for grabs right now!
IT IS THE YEAR 2079. Fourteen-year-old Abbey Lane dreams in colors that don’t exist anymore. Her life is a drudging routine of protecting her asthmatic genius older brother Paul from dust, and scrounging the ruin of the world with her best friend Max. But when they discover an old notebook in an abandoned university, possibilities open she never imagined. The three set out on an adventure into the past–to 1971 New York City and beyond. Along the way they rediscover nature, eat pizza, become hippies and befriend a tragic, legendary musician who may hold the keys to Earth’s destiny–if only they can save him!
SAM STEA is a practicing physician, proud husband, and father of a wonderful son and daughter. Some time ago, Stea took a simple and deliberate step back from the complexities of life to see himself in a much bigger picture, within a context of past and future, within the balance of the human species with nature, and with what is truly lasting beyond one’s own years.
His great hope is that others in health care, physicians, nurses, therapists of all kinds, scientists and administrators, and young people everywhere will join him in his fight to better inform the public that climate change is the greatest imminent health challenge humanity has yet to face.