An exquisitely beautiful and deeply affecting exploration of connection and loss in an age of planetary trauma.
When scientist Kate Larkin joins a secretive project to re-engineer the climate by resurrecting extinct species, she becomes enmeshed in another, even more clandestine program to recreate our long-lost relatives, the Neanderthals. But when the first of the children, a girl called Eve, is born, Kate finds herself torn between her duties as a scientist and her urge to protect their time-lost creation.
Set against the backdrop of hastening climate catastrophe, Ghost Species is an exquisitely beautiful and deeply affecting exploration of connection and loss in an age of planetary trauma. For as Eve grows to adulthood she and Kate must face the question of who and what she is. Is she natural or artificial? Human or non-human? And perhaps most importantly, as civilisation unravels around them, is Eve the ghost species, or are we?
Thrillingly original, Ghost Species is embedded with a deep love and understanding of the natural world.
“James Bradley is a writer of ideas and this prescient, thrillingly imaginative novel shows us what’s to become of humanity. Bradley’s most intimate book to date, Ghost Species asks hard, heartbreaking questions about the price of our separation from the natural world. Do we have the right to alter nature? What do we destroy when we seek to enhance it? And is it really possible to love another species as we do ourselves? An urgent, frighteningly timely novel about ethics, technology and love, Ghost Species made me think again and again of the poet Rilke’s command: You must change your life. ”
“Ghost Species is a remarkable novel from one of Australia's most engaging writers. This is great storytelling, gripping the reader from the first pages to the final sentence. Ghost Species is the story of our shared experience within families, communities and the nation. It is not a story of the future, but a vital narrative of the times we live in. In a time of uncertainty and potential catastrophe, James Bradley has delivered a story vital to any understanding of how we choose to live with each other and the precious planet that provides us with life.”
“At once haunted and haunting, this deeply moving book has the heft and power of myth or prophecy. It is a lament from the edge of a darkening world, giving voice to the grief and loss of this time and to the universal need for hope and love. Look, it says, look, and don’t look away. This is what we’re choosing.”
“The literary approach that Ghost Species brings to a subject both speculative and contemporary will appeal to genre and literary fiction readers of all ages. It should also appeal to those interested in the current climate crisis thanks to its convincing portrayal of the consequences of responding neither quickly nor effectively enough.”
Adam Ford, Books + Publishing
“James Bradley ?not only tells a great story, he manages to make spec fiction entirely plausible. Climate catastrophe and a resurrected Neanderthal named Eve drive this powerful tale. Highly recommended.”
“Ghost Species is a brilliantly modulated novel, but also a confrontational one, forcing us to ask not just what is possible, but what may be inescapable.”
Gary K. Wolfe, Locus
“What’s beautiful about Ghost Species is that Bradley recognises the best elements of humanity. Kate’s decision to flee the Foundation with Eve is an act borne out of courage and love, while her friendship with Yassamin – one that requires a large dollop of trust in a broken world – is a reminder that kindness and compassion are free of charge. As for Eve, she is a remarkable character, a young woman dealing with a dual heritage, who faces the sort of hatred and suspicion that homo sapiens have made an art-form since we became the dominant species on the planet. Ghost Species puts lie to the idea – recently expressed by the Prime Minister of Australia – that in responding to climate change, we need to focus more on resilience and adaptation. While Bradley’s climate fiction puts people first, an emphasis on characters who are brave, principled and compassionate, the key message of Ghost Species and Clade is that if we don’t act (and soon) there will be no billionaire entrepreneurs left to resurrect homo sapiens from the devastation we have wrought.”
Ian Mond, Locus
“Highly recommend you read James’ book. Its themes are urgent, his prose is beautiful, and he turns the story of the nonhuman into a story that it quintessentially human, and makes you wonder how you ever distinguished between the two.”
“An urgent and intimate exploration of love and loss. Ghost Species proceeds in a linear, at times breakneck, fashion, a deeply considered elegy with shades of the thriller.”
JR Burgmann, Australian Book Review
“Even though Bradley is a writer of ideas, and has been since his 1997 Miles Franklin-shortlisted novel Wrack, he is foremost a storyteller who knows how to propel the tale forward. He doesn’t moralise, even when a moral can be found. His work is fixated on the relationship between planet and earthlings. We’ve seen this in different manifestations: the blind palaeontologist working in the near-future in his 1999 novel The Deep Field; the scientist Adam in Clade; his editorship of The Penguin Book of the Ocean; and now in Ghost Species. Even two of his novels that look backwards — Wrack and The Resurrectionist — deal with archaeologists and anatomists respectively, and contain a deep sense of environmental wonder. I think he is at his strongest when he is future-gazing. The ideas in his new novel — planetary obliteration, the resurrection of dead species — may once have been science fiction. Today, Bradley’s speculative worlds are a future that is a stone’s throw away, and one we should all hope to keep at arm’s length.”
Jack Cameron Stanton, The Australian
Stephen Romei, The Australian
“Ghost Species is the haunting tale of a Neanderthal girl born of a lab experiment amidst an accelerated climate crisis. It is a gripping exploration of the past, present and future of humanity.”
John, UNSW Bookshop
“A super-timely, provoking read, also a ripper of a story. A great read all round.”
“Bradley's powerful narrative reflects that humanity collectively needs to change, a message even more relevant in the current coronavirus pandemic.”
Colin Steele, The Canberra Times
“Bradley writes at breakneck speed, his beautiful description limited to succinct, needle-sharp language. Ghost Species, James Bradley’s terrifyingly relevant seventh novel, is On the Beach for a globally warmed generation. Its proposed roadmap of where humankind’s false belief we’re in control will lead us is bleak but beautiful, its climate mayday embedded within a profound and provocative parental love story.”
James McKenzie Watson, Newtown Review of Books