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40

A Novel by Alan Heathcock

In a future America ravaged by natural disaster, pandemic, and political unrest, a fundamentalist faction emerges. As the Novae Terrae gain power, enticing civilians with bread and circuses, a civil war breaks out between its members and the US government.

Mazzy Goodwin, a young soldier, only wants to find her little sister, Ava Lynn. One day, she wakes in a bomb crater to find wings emerged from her back. Has she died? Been gifted wings by God? Undergone a military experiment?

The world sees a miracle. Mazzy is coaxed into seeing it as an opportunity: to become the angel-like figurehead of the revolution, in return for being reunited with her sister. Her journey leads her to New Los Angeles, where the Novae have set up the headquarters for their propaganda machine––right in the ruins of Hollywood. Aided by friends old and new, she must navigate a web of deceit while staying true to herself.

Told in sharp, haunting prose, as cinematic as it is precise, Alan Heathcock’s 40 is a dizzyingly fantastical novel about the dangers of blind faith, the temptation of spectacle, and the love of family. In a tale by turns mythic and tragic, one heroine must come to terms with the consequences of her decisions––and face the challenges of building a new world.

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Reviews

With 40, Alan Heathcock has come blazing into the novel form, giving us an original mythos, a tour de force of metamorphosis and survival. If an angry Flannery O’Connor wrote post-apocalyptic fiction with a pen of fire, it might look something like this. 

– Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Great Believers

Shaped from foreboding, almost neo-biblical prose, 40 is a fast-paced vision of a shattered American future: a place of violent factions, barbaric pageantry, remote-control rain, and angels made real. Heathcock has created a speculative thriller that glitters with imagination and glows with heart.

– Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize winning author of All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land

Forged amidst the ashes and blood of climate catastrophe, 40 invokes a genre-busting Wild West where faith and war and family converge with razor sharp prose, volleying to become a compass for an uncertain future. These words will cut deep into your soul and fill it with angelic feathers and the detritus of a dying world—often beautiful and horrific at once. You can try to corral 40 at a roundtable of Paolo Bacigalupi, Angela Carter, and Cormac McCarthy, but this is a near future prophecy that is chiefly Heathcockian. 

— Sequoia Nagamatsu, author of How High We Go in the Dark
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