Our Child of Two Worlds review

Just to say that it’s still out there, for sale, and getting the odd review like this:

Ben Jeapes gave Our Child of Two Worlds five stars

Carries on the story of Cory the alien from the first book, OUR CHILD OF THE STARS, with barely a falter in momentum. All the things that made the first book so charming and so strong are there: the golden age science fictional setting, updated with present sensibilities; the compassion and decency of the main characters; and above all, the intrusion of reality into the best-laid plans, making this feel like a story that is firmly set in the real world. Soon after the events of the first book, a new normality has just about asserted itself, people are getting used to it … And then the rug is pulled right from under their feet. There is no guaranteed ending, and whether the actual ending we do get can be called happy is a matter of perspective. I cannot recommend this or its predecessor highly enough.

Where does Cory’s spaceship land?

Doug Johnstone’s The Shape Between Us has an alien land in Scotland, adding to the large number of alien landings whose story is shaped by where they land, and who finds them.

ET lands in Modesto California, since it is a story about Spielberg’s childhood. Superman in Smallville, Kansas, for his Jewish creators wanted him to be an immigrant but raised by an all American family.

I have often mused on how Pilot, Cory’s mother, might have landed somewhere else, and the infinite stories that flowed from that.  To write is to choose.

Contains mild spoilers for Our Child of The Stars and Our Child of Two Worlds – spelling out some things not spelled out before.

Cory’s mother, the Pilot, flies Forager Ship Four towards a lush world of green and blue and white. A world of war, a world of summer and winter. Her son Little Blue Frog is unconscious, and her best friend and her child are already dead.  Her body is wracked with pain, she cannot shake off the pain from the wounds of so many deaths.  She knows she is alone dying.

Behind her, the huge colony ship tries a desperate move.  It launches one of its engines into the swarm of alien machines and detonates it…

A swarm of murderous alien machines heads for Earth, dragging a meteor as a shield.  What havoc it could wreak… Can she, dare she, destroy them as they fall?

This is a primitive planet, gripped by the psychosis that violence is an appropriate response to feeling beings.  She may need to hide.  Where on that world does she land…?

In the beginning, was a small New England town. The characters were American, except for the small purple boy with a heart of gold and a dreadful secret. His adoptive mother named him Cory.  The characters and the setting existed before there was thought of anything as fancy as a book or two.  I had a short story that obeyed Aristotle’s unities – a few characters, and the whole action in one place and on one day. 

What if Pilot, dying, bereaved, not wholly rational, had landed somewhere else?

Fellow writers challenged me why I did not move the setting – set it in the country I knew from experience, perhaps the Meteor striking somewhere in Somerset with an improbable name like Abbot’s Balcony or Fester St James, with the Ship down in the Bristol Channel.   A story set in the UK in 1969, where the times were a changing too.  I was a little younger than Cory is, not remembering the Moon Landings but I did remember Apollo 13. 

How different the flavour of the book would have been! Maybe I should have written a book of optimism and starry-eyed hope about Britain…

In part I set it in Amber Grove, New York, because that was as exotic as I felt up to – and because the characters came as liberal North-Eastern Americans and weren’t up for changing.

Fall leaves New England

Where does Cory land and who finds him first?

Infinite books spread out.  In many, Pilot’s gamble fails and Cory dies. Where there is no medical attention, his death is all but certain.  In many, the authorities learn of the boy, and in every one of those he becomes a plaything of the powerful.  How many governments would rush to tell the world and how many to keep him a secret?  How many keep him tucked away as Molly feared, like a lab rat?  How many see him first as a person?

Perhaps some of these stories are not too dreadful for him. Maybe even in an unkind world and for cynical reasons, those around him are still kind. If the President’s scientific advisor Dr Pfeiffer gets hold of him… he’s an ambitious and conceited Cold-Warrior but a kind and almost indulgent father. Many options will be nightmares for Cory and for me thinking of them. 

Of course, Cory is not human.  He has ways to flee captivity, before his powers are known.  Afterwards I see little chance.

Look at an equal area map of the world.  Look how much is Russia, China and their satellites.  Look how much of it is Africa.  Imagine Cory on the Serengeti, laughing at elephants, or staring at the blazing stars in longing… not knowing which star is home.

Imagine Cory’s first Earth winter – sledding in Alberta with other children, or skating a frozen pond in some Communist dacha… He does not like the stern men who come, but the Grandmothers are kind. 

He might have learned Danish or Igbo or Minnan or one of the countless tongues of Papua New Guinea.

He could have fallen into a hot war… into ignorant or criminal hands…  

Cory is a child who has known nothing but love.  He will be a challenge to all of us, our systems and our hypocrisies, wherever he lands.  What would Harold Wilson have done, or Pierre Trudeau?  Indira Gandhi or Seretse Khama?  How quickly the great powers would move on a lesser power – with threats and bribes.

Cory in Japan, Cory among the Amish, Cory bought and sold…

Alien ships tend to deposit their precious cargo in rural places – not just because there is more rural to land in, but for plot convenience.  Imagine the Ship being seen over a city.  Imagine trying to hide him in a Brazilian favela, or Manhattan.  But even cities have possibilities.

There are some stories it is perhaps not mine to tell.  I have a secret wish, where a kind and strong-minded widow with children of her own takes him in. She has a small circle who know their place, how people like them exist under a ration of tolerance, who know how to keep their mouths shut.  Her son is a hothead, a loudmouth who renounced the name she gave him for an African name, but he is smart and he knows people on both sides of the law.  Her older daughter is sleeping with a white slacker, connected to the seedier bits of youth culture.  She would use those connections, and her church. The youngest daughter would love Cory in this story as much as she does in mine.

Somehow the wheel turns, and Cory is taken in by Diane Alexander… a teacher, a Black woman, a widow, head of one of the few Black families in Amber Grove. Molly, her crazy friend and neighbour would soon find out, and help with this bewitching child, but Diane would be Earth Mom.

Maybe when the big money comes calling, the film will follow that story instead.

The Space Between Us – Review

(Doug Johnson – Orenda Books)

An alien washes up on a Scottish beach and is recovered by a small group of humans, linked by a curious burst of unexpected strokes. Needless to say, sinister authorities get involved, and soon the alien, a telepathic five-tentacled cephalopod dubbed Sandy, is being kept safe in a dash across scenic Scotland.  Who wouldn’t want a book which adds an alien to Loch Ness? 

For a story like this to work for me, the humans need to be empathically drawn, the alien the right blend of vulnerable and mysterious, the thrills and reveals well-paced, and the setting more than background scenery. Johnson, an experienced writer, succeeds on all fronts, including delivering his first science fiction book.

The story is grounded in four engaging humans.  Lennox is a troubled older teen from a children’s home; Ava, a heavily pregnant woman fleeing a coercive husband; Heather, a middle-aged mother contemplating suicide; and Ewan, a washed-up journalist tracking a story which draws him from reporter to participant.

Sandy is enigmatic and in some curious sense, plural. They are often recovering and powerless, but as the book progresses, who they are, where they came from, and what it all means becomes clearer.  All my reviews are spoiler free, but the climax gave me the wonder and hope implicit in the premise.  Those involved have been transformed in large ways and small.

The title I read is about the space between human beings and how we reach across it when thrown together by accident or a common purpose, but also, the distance between us and other thinking beings.  That space is bridged in a spectacular fashion.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an impartial review.

“Playing Just A Minute with Nina Wadia”

SciFiEtc Weekend SFW XIV was well organised, friendly and entertaining – and a bit bonkers. It describes itself as a SFFH weekend or a Geek Camp or a party. They were kind enough to invite me and Sarah and we had a great time. And I got to play Just A Minute with Nina Wadia.

I am struck by the difficulty of describing SFW both to people who go to other SFFH ‘conventions’ and those who lump them all together.

What they have in common is assembling people who are enthusiasts for the fantastic – people who have different tastes in books, shows, films, T-shirts, and art can still recognise a common ‘geekium’.

There are common elements

-lots of people cosplaying – wearing elaborate costumes. This makes me feel ‘I am with my people’ even if I don’t do it myself.

-talks, interviews, panel discussions, Q+As.

-different interests reflected particularly in the bigger events– film, TV, books, comics, games.

-entertainment of various forms – from folk music to rap, from standup to puppet theatre – all with some SFFH references

-guests who are working in the field, or who stay involved despite their professional life having moved on. So sometimes actors from series in the 70s 80s and 90s.

These events can be overwhelming or small and focused, they can be commercial and hardnosed, or run so much for the fans that they put off commercial and professional attendees.

SFW had the wonderful thing common to many enthusiasms that ‘everyone here treats this incredibly seriously’ but also with a firm core of ‘of course we don’t take ourselves too seriously’. In fact, never trust any group of people who aren’t happy to laugh at themselves.

It put a lot of emphasis on the entertainment – we were in a holiday camp. Guests like me in the Writer strand were treated as important but also expected to be accessible to the other attendees. For example, I was delighted to be given an hour where I went round six tables of 6-8 people and talked with them for ten minutes each.

I had an intelligent interview with Bryony Pearce (author in several genres) and Q+A –  a panel discussion on fandom such as how far do fans own a topic and is that always good – numerous slots selling my books and talking about what was on people’s minds and…

And I got to Play Just A Minute with Nina Wadia. It was a riot.

So Nina Wadia was there because she was in the Sandman TV series, which is very big, and was a first timer at any SFFH event. She was lovely and hilarious – and I’m not sure she was expecting the friendly warmth and enthusiasm and minor insanity she got.

Just a Minute was played as a full contact sport – like all these things you are singing for your supper and so we tried to give the audience entertainment. Nina, briefed on the rules only as we entered the stage but well able to stage a tantrum where required, me – listened to the game as a child – and author Bryony Pearce and actor Chase Masterton who are convention regulars and utterly ruthless players but charming and delightful with it!  I got plenty of laughs, which was a relief – sometimes my being funny mode doesn’t switch on. The result depended more on whose buzzer was working than anything else.

It was all great and people seemed interested.  I don’t think I got snappy, although I did have to disagree with the person who thought it was ‘a shame’ no one read Asimov any more.   

All the artists had the option to meet up for dinner which meant we got to know each other better.. Extrovert mode takes it out of me and a quiet night was appreciated. Shout out in particular to Anna Stephens (prolific author and fanfic advocate), and Simon Kurt Unsworth (horror writer and calm voice of reason on panels) and Benjamin his son and also a horror writer/collaborator. And Sam and David and Matt from Area 51 and everyone else who worked on making it happen.

Review – About Writing by Gareth Powell

Gareth Powell’s About Writing leaps into the recommended list for anyone thinking about writing a book, or if more experienced, wanting to check their own thinking about doing so.  While obviously written by someone who specialises in SFF/horror, it is definitely broad enough to be widely useful, and includes notes on other genres.

About Writing – from Gareth’s website

The book has the warm, passionate, and pragmatic approach that Powell embodies in his online persona. It mixes short pithy challenges with longer, well argued chapters. 

If I was looking for a credible book on how to write novels, I’d expect the following.

The person who wrote it has actually written several successful novels (or shepherded many books to success as editor or agent.)

They have had enough experience of self-publishing and traditional publishing to talk sense about both, and hybrid forms too.

In setting out how they write, they explain why, and they don’t assert that is the only way to do it. (Since, empirically, many highly successful authors write in very different ways).

It should touch on all the challenges of starting and finishing that first book, and also, what comes after.

About Writing does all this and more, and it is hard to fault.

Powell talks about the different bits of being an author.  How ideas come, how creativity can be nurtured, how to unlock yourself when stuck.  And also the discipline and hard work needed to finish the draft and go on to make the book as good as it can be. Writers must soar to the stars with empathy and imagination then have the hard intellectual work figuring out how to restructure or reframe the vision to make better sense or take fewer words.

A book about writing needs to look at the whole picture. Powell is realistic but not defeatist about the financial challenges of writing and he talks about the business side.  There is the vexed issue of promotion and having a public side.

Powell is sound on the personal. Writing books is a mental marathon and you need to look after yourself – the need to stay well read, to look after body and mind, to keep up connectivity offline with your friends and family. But also he’s right that’s there is joy, community and friendship to be found in the writing world. 

Finally, Powell gives us a manifesto, a case for creativity and writing stories as a great social good – a case for trying to be optimistic as a means to create a better future – and I love his parable that the Ugly Ducklings just need to get together and be who they are. Swans, nah.

I wish I had had this book when I started. 

Should genres police who can write them?

This post contains modest spoilers for Klara and the Sun, and The Fear Index.

Some people in the literary world are massive snobs.  They assume that romance, or crime, which sell vastly more than other genres, must be bad.

It is interesting that Austen, Eliot and Dickens were not considered ‘great literary writing’ by the literary greats of their day.

Science fiction and fantasy are considered weird books for unwashed boys despite having many diverse enthusiastic readers. The genre feeds a great many successful TV series and movies, and the electronic games industry. And as a lifelong reader, it interesting to see journalists wrestling with issues of ethics and technology which I first met in ‘books with rockets on the cover’. John Brunner for example wrote books which kind of got how fast, disjointed, and alienated modern life might become. Where wars are fought online and while computers know all about you, they can be hacked.

People who write in genre can be quite prickly about it. A big chunk of the literary world puts it down. It can lead to genre peeps getting protective when people breeze in and talk rubbish about it.

For example, a literary author – let us call him Ian – who has stopped having much interesting to say decades ago – decides to write a book about a robot who develops feelings.  To do this he has to explain that he is writing literary fiction and therefore addressing things much better than (sniff) science fiction. In further defensive interviews it appears he has not read any SF published in the last twenty-five years or any by a woman.

The science fiction world is scathing. Including me.

The moral question of what we owe a being we created is the theme of Frankenstein and its myriad successors.  The issue of what happens when an artificial person develops feelings and seeks independence drives the plot of Rossum’s Universal Robots, the 1920s Czech play which gave us the word Robot. And myriad successors.

This and similar debacles fuels the idea that, say, science fiction is a body of knowledge only the adept should tackle.  Enthusiasts say no one should write it unless they read it widely and know its canon and its roots.  Perhaps we should go so far as to say you should read terrible writers because they were once ‘important’. We are a guild, with sacred mysteries, and people should stay in their own lane.

I think this is a mistake.  It conflates three issues.

Should writers tackle themes they think are of interest? Yes. The creative imagination shouldn’t be full of demarcation disputes. It is good if people see the role of artificial intelligence and want to write about its possibilities for good and ill.

Should writers be informed about the existing works on that issue -, whatever that is? Obviously, that’s helpful.  Is it essential? No. There are so many books on some themes I couldn’t hope to read more than 5% of them. But if you think you are doing something imaginative and new, worth checking?

Should writers puff themselves about their originality with no knowledge of the genre?  Well, that’s a conceited belly flop into the cold custard.  

A better author, the late, great Iain Banks, wrote in both literary and science fiction worlds, and he said that anyone can write a detective story. To have the butler do it as a brilliant twist, they must expect and deserve mockery. (1)

It’s a good sign of someone not having read widely if they claim originality for ideas which turn up constantly. (“Magic and science in the same book” and “orcs are good really” being two of them.)

I have just read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, whose narrator is an Artificial Friend, brought into the home of a teenage girl.  It is science fiction because it asks – what are the consequences of scientific advances?

In this book Klara is a wonderfully off-centre narrator, and clearly sentient. The introduction of AI has led to widespread economic disruption.  It is also revealed that society allows some children to be mentally ‘lifted’ – a process which is clearly imperfect – and which creates a divided society between those families which can afford the process and the rest. (Just because we could, should we?)

Many writers would have written big symbolic clashes about these issues. What we have is a story of how it affects a couple of families, seen through a sympathetic but otherly observer, and where we readers have to fill in the gaps. It’s science fiction in a literary mode. And like Frankenstein it asks what we owe the people we create?

Another example I quote is Robert Harris’ the Fear Index, a thriller about an AI which trades on the stock market which develops sentience. It is a wonderful monster, because it figures out a better way to do what it needs to than its creators. It has no interest in hurting humans or helping them. It just does what it needs to boost its returns… (Just as computers which play Go develop werid moves no human ever thought of, driving the human players to re-engineer their own game as they play.)

So science fiction is good and matters. I don’t think as a writer I should tell people what they can write.  I reserve the right to mock them if they claim originality for well-trodden ideas. After all, science fiction writers often revisit well-trodden ideas themselves.

It is infuriating when a well known writer slums it in SF and gets paid well in attention, respect, and cash, when a far better writer does not. I don’t think our anger should quite extend to being against outside writers who make an effort and do it well.

My own books sought to reach a wider audience than convinced science fiction readers. I don’t think I have ever been guilty of running the genre down. It’s a big galaxy with room for a great many approaches.

(1) It is interesting that the first comment that the butler being the murderer is a terrible cliché appears to predate any real work in which this was the plot.

Photo of robot bewildered by literary snobs by Alex Knight Pexels

Paperback Launch Update

Palmers Green Author Stephen Cox has his second book out in paperback on 13 October. It’s also the tenth anniversary of committing to being a writer.

Our Child of the Stars and now Our Child of Two Worlds combine family drama in 1960s USA with new takes on a few classic SF ideas.  A childless couple adopt an orphaned alien and try to keep him safe – against peril on Earth and in space.


Saturday 15 October, 7pm All Good Bookshop.  35 Turnpike Lane, Wood Green, London, N8 0EP. There’s some wine and snacks but do BYOB.  Stephen will reading, doing Q+A and talking on Tigger or Eeyore? – ten years getting publishing. RSVP appreciated.  BTW you can order from the bookshop and Stephen will sign and dedicate where asked


There is an online launch Monday 17th Oct at 7pm on Zoom – similar to above. All welcome but email stephen.cox.pr@gmail.com for Zoom link. Stephen does talks to groups.


If you just want to grab Stephen to sign a copy, Enfield Waterstones Church Street are planning a just-turn-up signing 12-2pm Sat 15th. 

Our Child of the Stars was praised by the Guardian, Grazia, FT, the Mail and LA Times. (“…a wonderfully emotional, heart-warming journey of what it really means to be a parent” – LA Times).  

The sequel, Our Child of Two Worlds has won similar praise. “Riveting, compelling, and emotionally charged: a page turner I loved” “watch and be dazzled”

More on https://www.stephencox.co.uk

The Case of the Corrected Carol

“Mystery/detective/police or legal procedurals are antithetical to horror/fantasy; if you like one, you will not usually like the other. because traditional mysteries MUST be realistic, otherwise detection makes no sense.”

Joyce Carol Oates”

This is objectively wrong. 

Firstly, because many people read widely in genre. I read thrillers, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and some YA (and YA can be any of those genres as well – it is more a mode than a genre).  To give a specific example, I have read traditional murder mysteries set in ALL these genres – traditional in the sense of solved by logic, insight into character, lab work, etc.

I have written ‘traditional’ mysteries which are also science fiction or fantasy.  What are the actual issues?

Does the logical process of unpicking a ‘traditional mystery’ require absolute realism? Clearly, if you have read good SFF, you know it doesn’t.

Oates assumes that once you leave the shores of absolute realism, anything can happen. Therefore a mystery cannot be constructed because things happen without a reason. This is a rookie error, each story in science fiction and fantasy follows their own logic, which is sufficiently revealed to the reader that the story makes some sense.

Mysteries fall into two types – fair, where the reader can puzzle out what is going on from what is in the text – and unfair – where the ‘investigator’ has information the reader does not, or they can make the uniquely correct deduction from the facts whereas a normal person couldn’t find the signal in the noise, or there are multiple solutions. (Famously Arthur Conan Doyle accepted some of his Holmes stories had other solutions.)

A great many mysteries are written to be ‘unfair’ and are perfectly enjoyable. You are along for the ride. The SFF mysteries I have written are fair – the detective knows nothing relevant to the case which has not been shared with the reader. Try “Murder in the hospital” in my Free Fiction pages

It is rare to set out to write a mystery which is immediately solved – although it would be a splendid story if the solution could be known immediately but be exceptionally difficult to prove.

Those solving the crime can share what they learn with the reader. ‘Using this spell, I can say who has been in this room since the last full moon.’ This is then no different from any other source of information for the detective. Spells or hitech are just lab work.

Or whatever is special in the world may mislead the detective or be inconclusive.  We used to think DNA was infallible. Then we discovered human error creeps in.

If your story rests on orcs having night-vision but being colour-blind, a fair author will slip that fact in, directly or otherwise. It’s no different from writing a deeply conventional murder.

Mysteries are usually out to entertain with a thrilling or intriguing plot, to shed some light on character and the human condition, and in the classic murder mystery, to assert moral order over immoral chaos.  The murderer is caught or otherwise punished.

SFF stories can be heist movies, buddy cop stories, classic noir thrillers, creepy psychological chillers, or political dramas. They can be set in any era and any genre. Ultimately they are more often about people than ideas.

But Joyce Carol Oates does us one favour – it reminds us to read in a genre before pontificating about it.

Picture thanks to cottonbro pexels.com

A black and white picture of a detective in the noir typewriter era pondering a document with a magnifying glass. (He's African American)
Detection can take place in many worlds

How many freaking plots are there?

Before I reproduce a letter in the Guardian many years ago, what is all this about there only being one story, or seven, or 36?

Humans like to find patterns and make categories. Aristotle said stories should have a beginning, middle, and end, and progress through a logical chain of cause and effect.  Unlike many things Aristotle says, this stands up surprisingly well., although now we don’t always tell stories in the order they happened.

In Shakespeare’s day, plays were comedies (ends with wedding), tragedies (ends with funeral), or histories (the ‘right’ King wins.)

The Hero’s Journey tries to shoehorn every story into a single model where personal change and succeeding in the objective are the same thing. At a basic level it is definitely right to consider internal and external conflict and change. In my view, the Heroine’s Journey is better in that it considers three aspects – internal change, external conflict, and a change in respect to society (family, team, etc).

Polti found 36 basic plots – truly more like dramatic situations – in fairy tales.

The following piece claims there are eight essential plots (but in effect adds a nineth ‘modern plotlessness.’) Each plotty plot can be ‘inverted’ or comes in at least two versions – so that is already sixteen plots.  They can be done seriously or as comedy or farce.  Hamlet could be darkly hilarious if no-one ever managed to murder the people they were trying to kill.  Then they can be combined. A love triangle can be added to any of the others.

Of course, reading the below, people need not be human, not all boys are looking for girls, and three is not always a crowd.

It’s true that there are deep structural similarities between stories and that understanding how a story works is important. Stories and books can meander and lose interest because the writer is not clear what they are doing.

Writing combines free creativity and strong discipline, matching ideas can produce fruitful new scenarios. But trying to reduce a book to a standard plot can sometimes serve no purpose.

To say every story is either ‘a stranger comes’ or ‘someone goes on a journey’ only works by taking sweeping definitions of the words. That reminds me of the phase ‘everyone is bisexual really’ which can only be true for a very wide definition of bisexual or really or both – a definition too broad to be useful.

Our Child of the Stars is “A stranger comes to town”. Which of the following plots is it?

I like this list because I use it as a prompt for ideas.

Article begins:

“I’M NOT sure about plots for stories, but plots for plays is something my father, the Irish playwright Denis Johnston, had a lot to say about. Originally he thought there were seven, but then he realised there are in fact eight:

1. Cinderella – or unrecognised virtue at last recognised. It’s the same story as the Tortoise and the Hare. Cinderella doesn’t have to be a girl, nor does it even have to be a love story. What is essential is that the Good is despised, but is recognised in the end, something that we all want to believe.
2. Achilles – the Fatal Flaw that is the groundwork for practically all classical tragedy, although it can be made comedy too, as in the old standard Aldwych farce. Lennox Robinson’s The Whiteheaded Boy is the Fatal Flaw in reverse.
3. Faust – the Debt that Must be Paid, the fate that catches up with all of us sooner or later. This is found in all its purity as the chase in O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones. And in a completely different mood, what else is The Cherry Orchard?
4. Tristan – that standard triangular plot of two women and one man, or two men and one woman. The Constant Nymph or almost any French farce.
5. Circe – the Spider and the Fly. Othello. The Barretts of Wimpole Street if you want to change the sex. And if you don’t believe me about Othello (the real plot of which is not the triangle and only incidentally jealousy) try casting it with a good Desdemona but a poor Iago.
6. Romeo and Juliet – Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy either finds or does not find Girl – it doesn’t matter which.
7. Orpheus – The Gift taken Away. This may take two forms: either the tragedy of the loss itself, as in Juno and the Paycock, or it may be about the search that follows the loss, as in Jason and the Golden Fleece.
8. The Hero Who Cannot Be Kept Down. The best example of this is that splendid play Harvey , made into a film with James Stewart.

These plots can be presented in so many different forms – tragedy, comedy, farce, whodunnit – and they can be inverted, but they still form the basis of all good writing. The fault with many contemporary plays is simply that they do not have a plot.

Rory Johnston, London NW3.

Early praise for Our Child of Two Worlds

Beautiful and tender. I really love the characters… there is so much empathy and warmth and humanity. …the same esteemed league as Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series… (Patricia Rodriguez, Actor, reader for the two audiobooks.)

A cross between ET and Independence Day… [Cox] ramps up readers’ emotions in this heart-warming and thought-provoking story. A world on the brink of destruction and the one small alien boy who is determined to save it. It’s very tense and I wasn’t crying – honest!  (Sue Tingey, author)

The writing is as wonderful as always, concerned with the small, telling details that show the wider picture so effectively. It’s evocative and beautiful and works to make you care even more deeply about both the characters and the earth that’s so under threat… This book has the same emotional heart and heft of the first one, but on a much larger (as in galaxies larger) stage, a tricky balancing act pulled off with aplomb. (Sophie, Goodreads)

It may be shelved under Sci-Fi but for me, Our Child of Two Worlds is a stirring novel about family and home. Rich with humanity, it explores our species’ tendency to damage ourselves, our relationships and Planet Earth. And at its core, it gives us Cory, the young, vulnerable ‘purple’ with tentacles who powered the original novel by making us love him. A powerful, sad but satisfying sequel.” (Sue Hampton, author, peace and climate activist)

I couldn’t put this book down … well written with an interesting and well written storyline and well-developed characters that I enjoyed (Goodreads)

Cox has done a superb job of building on all the strengths of the first book while taking the story in new and interesting directions. (Juliet McKenna, author)

The thing I liked most about Our Child of the Stars was the characters, they felt nuanced and real and even characters who only appear briefly are believable people who could be the main character of their own story. The same holds true for Our Child of Two Worlds, which takes the much loved characters of the first book and alongside brilliant newly introduced ones, thrusts them into new scenarios, some anxiety-inducing, some heart-warming, some both. The new characters fit into the story so well that if you reread, as I have, you can’t wait for them to turn up again to experience the exciting dynamics they bring.  (Lucy, Goodreads)

Our Child Of Two Worlds is modern, emotionally sophisticated science fiction. Stephen Cox’s tale of the charming but lost alien child Cory shows us that humanity, for all its flaws, is worth saving, and that the power of the human heart stretches from this world to the next ― DAN JONES, author of Man O’War and host of Chronscast.