- Publisher: Audible Originals
- Available in: audio
An Audible Original.
Fourteen-year-old Franny Fenway lives by herself on Boss, a rumbling, tumbling, stumbling mountain-city roaming over an uninhabitable continent, the last refuge of the few survivors of the devastation of the last days of the oldizens. But a visitor from the City of Angels shatters her tranquility and starts her on a journey to discover the true story of the world that only she can tell.
Narrated by the fantastic Auliʻi Cravalho, this novella is available exclusively from Audible.
Here’s an interview I did with Sam Danis of Audible in which we talk about the novella.
I write very few novellas, maybe one every five years. The Man Who Ended History, All the Flavors, The Regular, that’s it.
Now there’s a new one. Even among my novellas, it’s special.
It’s science fiction but feels like fantasy (not that I’ve ever put much stock in these labels); it’s full of references to metropolitan Boston; it was written during the pandemic and shows it; it involves people doing terrible things to one another in an unfeeling world, but it never wavers from stubborn hope; it’s like a Hayao Miyazaki film in literary form, but illustrated with circuit diagrams; it is unabashedly patriotic, spilling over with an abiding love for what America could be, and a sorrow for how far it falls short of its own ideals. It is, simply put, a very mestory.
It’s also my first long story written from the ground up for the audio market (hence the Audible Originals publication). I’m a big believer in the idea that a story is best served by taking advantage of the unique features of the medium for which it is intended—print, web, audio, comic book, film, TV, game—even if that means it becomes difficult to present the story in other media. Most of my stories are intended to be consumed through the eye rather than the ear. Example: I wrote “Cutting” for the printed page, such that the white space is an integral part of the story. I never even intended for it to be read aloud.
But The Armies of Those I Love is different. It’s inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman (I think of him as the greatest of American poets, one who straddled the age of mythology and the age of electricity). It takes place in a post-post-apocalyptic world, where orality once again reigns. Like Whitman’s poetry, it is meant to be heard in a hypnotic state of trance, not contemplatively taken in off the page. It requires a performance.
Which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to say that Audible was able to ask my first choice, Auliʻi Cravalho, to do the narration. I love what she’s done with the story. This is a performance that must be heard to be believed.
Above all, I wish you as much joy in listening to it as I experienced in crafting it.