Excerpt from The Milky Way by Moiya McTier, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Milky Way

An Autobiography of Our Galaxy

by Moiya McTier

The Milky Way by Moiya McTier X
The Milky Way by Moiya McTier
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2022, 256 pages

    Aug 2023, 384 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Erin Lyndal Martin
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

Though, in the interest of transparency—I hear that's how one builds trust on Earth, no?—I did briefly, only for like fifty years or something, consider asking your sun to throw out a flare that would wipe out all of your electronics so you would depend on me again. But you know how kids are. Just because you create them doesn't mean they'll do whatever you ask. So I graciously abandoned my murderous plan.

Then I remembered—because wisdom is another of my best qualities—that several hundred years is actually a long time for humans. Your silence wasn't just a brief distraction; entire generations had passed without bothering to think about me.

In some ways, I felt better realizing that it's not specifically your fault that your kind stopped caring about me. Your world is no longer set up to appreciate my splendor. It hasn't been since well before you were born. In the last one hundred years, your human cities have become blinding beacons of light that your distant ancestors never would have imagined. The electricity you all value so much has stolen something precious from nearly 80 percent of you: an unobstructed view of my gorgeous body. And that's just the light pollution. The tiny smog particles that you've been overproducing since you started your little industrialization project in the 1700s aren't merely damaging your lungs and trapping heat in your planet's atmosphere. More importantly, they're blocking my light from reaching Earth's surface. There are humans alive right now who have only ever seen a handful of my stars, which is a tragedy! And I am as much a victim in this as all of you for being rendered basically invisible.

If you're an astute reader—and your choice to read this book does imply some advanced cognitive ability—then you might be wondering why I'm not satisfied by simply aiding astronomers in their research. The sad fact is that there are only about ten thousand human astronomers total, out of nearly eight billion humans. They do excellent work—honestly, it's amazing what they've been able to learn without leaving your tiny little rock—but the typical astronomy paper gets read by at most twenty other people. And those people already know most of what's in the paper anyway, so helping astronomers does little for your planet's ignorant masses.

Also, it's more entertaining to watch your astronomers struggle through the learning. When they become extra frustrated, many of them start chewing frantically on their nails, and it's just too darling to forgo by giving them the answers.

I realized that either I could remain bitter and sullen about the fact that most humans have forgotten about me, or I could do something to change it. And although I don't actually have an ass that I could get up off, to employ one of your crass expressions, I chose the latter.

The issue is that too many of you don't know enough about me to understand how I can assist you. You literally live in me, but most of you don't even know what I look like, let alone what I'm made of or how I move. And it's probably asking too much to expect that you would learn those things on your own. It's definitely asking too much of your astronomers to expect that they could effectively teach their fellow humans what they've learned. So, alas, the responsibility falls to me. Lucky for you, I'm willing and more than able to do you this service.

So here I am, introducing myself to you officially for the first time. I am the Milky Way, the galaxy whom you probably enjoyed staring at when you were young—the human children, at least, have retained enough of a sense of wonder to let me into their lives—but promptly forgot about as soon as you hit puberty and decided you had more important things to do.

I've kept your kind safe and entertained for millennia, and I'll continue doing so by telling you my story. You have a word for when a person writes about their own life: autobiography. That's what this book is. I'll tell you how I was born and where I grew up. I'll talk about my deepest shame and how I instigated the greatest love story in the universe. I'll even reveal my feelings about my—and by extension your, if your kind survives that long—impending death. And if my story moves you to share it with your fellow humans and maybe make up some tales of your own, then I shall consider it a triumph.

Excerpted from The Milky Way by Moiya McTier. Copyright © 2022 by Moiya McTier. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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