Six Degrees of Separation… with Joshua Phillip Johnson

Painting of a girl in a red coat facing out across prairie grass to a tall ship on the horizon (cover art detail from The Forever Sea)

You know the saying: no two people in the contacted world are more than six social connections apart (current lockdowns notwithstanding). Inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite And Best, I like to apply this notion to books – finding interesting ways to hop from one book to the next based on a shared author, theme, award win and so on. I like it even better when I can persuade authors to have a go. Today, I’m delighted to welcome debut author Joshua Phillip Johnson to take the Six Degrees challenge.

Joshua Phillip Johnson lives in the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States. During the day he teaches English and Creative Writing at a small university, and the rest of the time he goes on adventures with his partner and child. His debut novel The Forever Sea is out now in the US from DAW, and will be released on January 26th in the UK by Titan Books.

Author image: Joshua Philllip Johnson

Thanks so much to There’s Always Room For One More for inviting me to take the Six Degrees challenge! I decided to start with an old fantasy series I loved as a kid (and continue to love as an older kid): The Chronicles of Prydain. So, without further ado, I’ll begin with…

The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander

The third book in Alexander’s pentalogy was my favorite as a young reader because it focused on my favorite character, Princess Eilonwy, who has the linguistic habit of describing most things in similes.

Embassytown by China Mieville

This novel features a population known as the Ariekei, who cannot lie and recruit people to perform literal similes so they can use them (the similes) in conversation.

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

The Trisolarans, an alien population who cannot lie because of the transparency of their thoughts, are coming to Earth to bring about the end of humanity and take up residence here.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

After a meteorite strikes the Earth and sets off a worldwide disaster that seems likely to bring about the end of humanity, major governmental organizations work to master the unknowns of space travel.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Southern Reach is a mysterious organization that works to master the unknowns of Area X via expeditions, and this novel sees a group of women traveling into mostly unmapped territory in a trip that challenges our ideas about nature and our relationship to it.

The Forever Sea by me!

In this novel, a group of women sail into mostly unmapped prairie seas, and the main character, Kindred, finds herself challenging her ideas about nature and her relationship to it.

The Forever Sea

On the never-ending, miles-high expanse of prairie grasses known as the Forever Sea, Kindred Greyreach, hearthfire keeper and sailor aboard harvesting vessel The Errant, is just beginning to fit in with the crew of her new ship when she receives devastating news. Her grandmother The Marchess, legendary captain and hearthfire keeper has stepped from her vessel and disappeared into the sea. But the note she leaves Kindred suggests this was not an act of suicide. Something waits in the depths, and the Marchess has set out to find it.

Book cover: The Forever Sea - Joshua Phillip Johnson

To follow in her grandmother s footsteps, Kindred must embroil herself in conflicts bigger than she could imagine: a water war simmering below the surface of two cultures; the politics of a mythic pirate city floating beyond the edges of safe seas; battles against beasts of the deep, driven to the brink of madness; and the elusive promise of a world below the waves.

Kindred finds that she will sacrifice almost everything ship, crew, and a life sailing in the sun to discover the truth of the darkness that waits below the Forever Sea.

Intrigued? I certainly am – I’ll be reading The Forever Sea next week, with a review to follow.

Many thanks to Joshua for accepting the challenge and to Sarah Mathers at Titan Books for co-ordinating.