Sea of Tranquility
Momma Leighellen's Book Review

“The truth is, even now, all these centuries later, for all our technological advances, all our scientific knowledge of illness, we still don’t know why one person gets sick and another doesn’t, or why one patient survives and another dies.” – Sea of Tranquility


This pandemic era sci fi novella features a unique cast of characters, from various timelines.  There’s a young Englishman in 1912, finding his way in a new land.  In 2020, there’s a young woman mourning the loss of her husband after a financial fallout.  There’s an author from the moon colony in 2203, making her way across worlds on a book tour.  And there’s a detective, in 2401, trying to make sense of it all.

“There were all these strands, narratively speaking, all these characters, and I felt like I was waiting for them to connect”


I think my favorite part of this short novel was how Emily St. John Mandel seamlessly works her own experiences as an author into this book.  There’s funny quips about awkward interviews, assumptions about her work ethic, and the reality of traveling as part of the job.  She also pokes fun at herself as a sci fi author in the middle of a pandemic and adds multiple pandemic era observations. 

“Turns out reality is more important than we thought?”

And that’s essentially what Sea of Tranquility is…musings from an author who was stuck at home, pondering what it would be like to time travel.  Would you do things differently?  Would we behave differently if we knew what was coming?  Will what we’ve just been through effect our future?  Will we change anything now? 

“Doesn’t everything seem obvious in retrospect?”

The story revolves around a man, traveling through time, trying to connect a series of seemingly random events.  Are they truly random?  Or are they connected?  It’s a fast read (I finished in an evening) and while fairly simple, there’s a lot to think on.  Would you change something if you could? And what really matters?  

“We turn to postapocolyptic fiction not because we’re drawn to disaster, but to what we imagine might come next.  We long secretly for a world with less technology in it.” 

Maybe not as deep or impactful as Station Eleven but lovers of time travel and thoughtful narratives will enjoy this one.  I also think it would make a really cool movie! Thanks to @knopf for sending this my way.


You can pick up a copy of the book here.  To read more of my reviews, check out the rest of my blog.  To enter the latest giveaways and see what I’m currently reading, head to my Bookstagram account in IG.  And to listen to me chat all things bookish and share my latest reviews, head to my Booktube Channel. To try the book on audio go here!

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