Notes toward a pitch
We have months to figure this out, no problem
Even now, with the manuscript finished and a physical object taking shape over at MCD×FSG, I have a difficult time describing this book. In June, a crisp, appealing pitch will not be optional —
We’ll do this together, in public.
Here is what’s in my head now, floppy but accurate:
In this novel, I describe two futures. First, a near future of humanity, in which we solve many of our largest problems, and become the civilization we are capable of becoming. Second, a distant future, in which things have gone awry for Earth, and the memory and inspiration of humanity, who at their apex called themselves the Anth, serves an important purpose. It’s in this distant future that the story unfolds, but, along the way, we learn a lot about the Anth, and the near future of human success.
The book opens on Earth, eleven thousand years from now. The Anth met their end long ago. (You’ll learn how and why; it is not what you expect.) How, then, do we encounter a human boy living in a village in a forested valley? And, when he is levered out of that cozy home —
That’s probably too long. Here’s another attempt, a bit shorter:
The year is 13777. There are dragons on the moon.
Moonbound is the kind of book I have always wanted to write. It is totally engaging for adults —
Reading books of this kind during that period in my life was powerfully formative; with this project, I intend to pay back into the bank that I drew upon so greedily.
Following its publication, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore won the Alex Award, bestowed by the American Library Association upon the year’s best books that
- while notionally published for adults,
- are totally suitable and appealing for young readers.
It was a great honor; I received a weighty medallion; and now: I am gunning for another one.
Maybe I should simply say: this book represents my attempt to produce something worthy of the shelf that holds C. S. Lewis, Philip Pullman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Here is Moonbound described by my editors at MCD×FSG, characteristically punchy and electric:
Robin Sloan expands the Penumbraverse to new reaches of time and space in a rollicking far-future adventure.
In Moonbound, Robin Sloan has written a novel with the full scope and ambitious imagination of the very books that lit the engines of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: an epic quest as only Sloan could conceive it, mixing science fiction, fantasy, good old-fashioned literary storytelling, and unrivaled enthusiasm for what’s next.
It is eleven thousand years from now … A lot has happened, and yet a lot is still very familiar. Ariel is a boy in a small town under a wizard’s rule. Like many adventurers before him, Ariel is called to explore a world full of unimaginable glories and challenges: unknown enemies, a mission to save the world, a girl. Here, as they say, be dragons. But none of this happens before Ariel comes across an artifact from an earlier civilization, a sentient, record-keeping artificial intelligence that carries with it the perspective of the whole of human history —
and becomes both Ariel’s greatest ally and the narrator of our story.
Moonbound is an adventure into the richest depths of Story itself. It is a deeply satisfying epic of ancient scale, blasted through the imaginative prism one of our most forward-thinking writers. And this is only the beginning.
Jacket copy is a genre, as precise and demanding as any other, and MCD×FSG always nails it. I loved my publisher’s distillations of Sourdough and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, too.
The evidence mounts: you’re better off letting other people describe your books.
Maybe so, but I still need something to SAY! I need to sell this thing to a potential reader in like … two sentences.
The year is 13777. There are dragons on the moon?
We have work to do.
First published: October 2023
Last updated: November 2023