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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Nebula Award 

After a global pandemic makes public gatherings illegal and concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music - and for one chance at human connection.

In the Before, when the government didn't prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce's connection to the world - her music, her purpose - is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: She performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law. 

Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery - no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she'll have to do something she's never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.

©2019 Sarah Pinsker (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"An all-too plausible version of the apocalypse, rendered in such compelling prose that you won’t be able to put it down...a lively and hopeful look at how community and music and life goes on even in the middle of dark days and malevolent corporate shenanigans." (Kelly Link, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Get In Trouble)

"You'd better keep a copy of A Song for a New Day with you at all times, because this book will help you survive the future. Sarah Pinsker has written a wonderful epic about music, community, and rediscovering the things that make us human. Pinsker has an amazing ear for dialogue, a brilliant knack for describing music, and most importantly a profound awareness of silence, in both its positive and negative aspects. A Song for a New Day restored some of my faith in community, and I didn't even realize how much I needed this book right now." (Charlie Jane Anders, national best-selling author of All the Birds in the Sky and The City in the Middle of the Night)

"Experiencing Sarah Pinsker's A Song For a New Day is like listening to a fine, well-rehearsed song unleashed live. It's a deeply human song of queer found family and the tension between independence and belonging, thoughtful and raw like the best live music. It's also a cautionary tale of what happens when we privilege convenience over connection. If you love performance - the magic of head-thrown-back ecstatic musical communion - read this book." (Nicola Griffith, author of Hild)

What listeners say about A Song for a New Day

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Amazingly Prescient & Heartfelt

I have been a fan of this author's short fiction for several years. So I saved her intense and inspiring novel for Labor Day Weekend 2020, as my home island is under yet another Covid19 lockdown order. Instead of swimming with picnics on the beach and enjoying and dancing to live music, I listened in the dark without pause to the beautiful interwoven voices of two talented voice artists.

As an occasional professional singer and performing poet, I could only empathize with the bleak emptiness facing performers in the novel's "After" era. Quarantines, lockdowns, and stay-at-home orders may be politically convenient, but this examination of the social and personal destruction and spiritual injury of living in a culture of fear make it all too clear that another way forward is essential.

There is incredible bliss when a group of human beings share body and soul in live music. These potent occasions remind us why human life is precious, why we need to persist in shared communities despite pain and loss and hardship. Being forced into isolation is ultimately the most effective way to destroy the human spirit...and virtual reality is really just another form of isolation.

Terror, illness, and pandemics have always been the enemies of human society. I hope we can all find the creativity and courage to rebuild, tolerate differences, and live lives of empathy and compassion--finally finding ways to live in harmony with our neighbors, countries, and the world as a whole.

I know I will listen to this moving and thought-provoking book again.

9 people found this helpful

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Something missing; unsatisfying.

This was recommended to me because I love Ready Player One, but the similarities to that novel are only superficial. It's a neat story set in an interesting near-future world, and well performed, but it's not magic like RPO. It completely lacks a sense of wonder, of epic scale, of protagonists defeating a great evil. In point of fact, I found the plot arc and character relationships deeply unsatisfying. That being said, it's likely Song for a New Day will feel much more meaningful to listeners into a local music scene. If that's you, highly recommended. If, like me, you're looking for another romp in The Oasis, this isn't it

5 people found this helpful

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Anthem for Culture Change

This story needs to be told, even as we hurtle towards all of it's dark predictions. The artist in me is inspired to go out and build a new future for our fearful and uncertain present. If you are a creative person, then this story is for you, too. Don't let the chaos of Now distract you from considering what type of world we are building. Thanks, Sarah Pinsker, for giving us a glimpse of how to move forward in this world. You couldn't have known how much your story would come to matter for 2020.

3 people found this helpful

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The best book I’ve read in a very long time

Smart, apt, and intriguing. Can’t wait to hear more from this amazing author- she’s on my short list!!

2 people found this helpful

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best Sci-Fi drama I've read this year

the only complaint I have is that I wasn't ready to be done with it. this is a book I could re-read over and over, and love it every time. Aside from the prescient message, this is everything good sci-fi - and good literature should be. Rates up top with "The Calculating Stars" and "All Our Wrong Todays."

2 people found this helpful

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Very lucky or very prescient

Sarah Pinsker's debut novel, A Song for a New Day was released in 2019, but seemed to presage 2020 quite accurately. In this near future world, following a series of terrorist attacks and then a raging pandemic, the world several years later has evolved to a stage where any and all large scale gatherings are strictly illegal and society has adopted a generally risk averse nature. The tale is related through the eyes of a former professional musician who has gone underground and a young woman who has grown up in this new environment, lives at home, and works virtually for a nightmarish Amazon/Walmart/Disney conglomerate. She branches out to a company offering pseudo-live virtual concerts, while the professional musician eventually settles into a burgeoning underground scene. They eventually conspire to bring back live performance music.

Pinsker captures the essence of political overreach with the pendulum swinging between freedom and security ratcheted way too much towards the latter. While's there's a bit on the over-homogenization of service business and the façade of plain vanilla avatars as well as much criticism of the corporate intrusion into the music world with over-emphasis on the image and choreographing spontaneity, the real focus is the human and societal inertia to modify behavior and continue to 'play it safe.' The innocent learning her way in the world will be all too familiar and relatable.

As the story is related from two distinct perspectives, the choice of two narrators was wise. Character distinction is adequate and pacing is brisk.

1 person found this helpful

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amazing

one of my favorite books ever. period. super hopeful and inspiring. the story is woven together well. for any musicians or folks that have been a part of underground scenes, you will see yourself and your friends here.

1 person found this helpful

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A Gauntlet Thrown

This passionate, lyrical novel, drawn from the author’s own deep experience of live music, is a challenge thrown to those who would resist oppression in all its forms. Its controlling metaphor of the infinite ways in which human beings create and express dovetails with its serious inquiry about collaboration, capitulation, subversion, self-protection, sin, and the search for redemption.

My only quibble (which you can see did not affect my ratings) arises from my legal training. The major premise of the novel depends on a set of statutory reactions to a crisis that I am reasonably confident would not survive First Amendment challenge. I am able to believe in both the mass hysteria and the political and corporate opportunism that would seek to create and perpetuate such reactions, but I don’t think the emergency exceptions to the Peaceable Assembly clause would extend this far. Because there is so much legal and constitutional misinformation out there, I think it’s important to correct such misapprehensions where they arise. However, the average reader would not notice or care about this issue (which is part of the problem), and so it would not affect anyone’s enjoyment.

1 person found this helpful

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Musicians might like it. Boring and whiney to me.

The author wrote with inclusivity in mind. That was nice. The characters were constantly anxious and introspective. Very little actual excitement. If you're not a musician or very into the music scene, it won't speak to you nearly as much.

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prescient and hopeful

loved the story, felt very relevant in this moment. the theme of needing both inside and outside change makers to move a system.