> Skip to content
Read an extract
Play sample
  • Published: 28 April 2020
  • ISBN: 9781926428666
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $29.99

Ghost Species

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.

  • Published: 28 April 2020
  • ISBN: 9781926428666
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $29.99

About the author

James Bradley

James Bradley is a writer and critic. His books include the novels Wrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist, Clade and Ghost Species, a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus, and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. His essays and articles have appeared in The Monthly, The Guardian, Sydney Review of Books, Griffith Review, Meanjin, the Weekend Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. In 2012 he won the Pascall Prize for Australia’s Critic of the Year, and he has been shortlisted twice for the Bragg Prize for Science Writing and nominated for a Walkley Award. He lives in Sydney.

Also by James Bradley

See all

Praise for Ghost Species

Ghost Species is a haunting, original and unexpectedly tender book that poses important questions about the human/non-human divide. Timely and moving.

Amitav Ghosh

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.

Charlotte Wood

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.

Tony Birch

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.

Lucy Treloar

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.

Mark Smith

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.

Stephanie Convery

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.

Ashleigh Wilson

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

Timely and beautifully written, Ghost Species is an elegiac exploration of science and compassion against a backdrop of planetary trauma.

Amy Brady, Chicago Review of Books

In Ghost Species, Bradley has climate change as the driver in a more human novel that uses the intimacy of a mother and a daughter to keep us in a familiar story as the world cleaves off into collapse. And it’s done with a keen interest in what makes us human that, far from clanging, harmonises with our times.

George Dunford, Arts Hub

If you're facing lockdown or near lockdown again you might want to look to GHOST SPECIES by James Bradley. It's twisty and very, very gripping, combining a really intriguing plot, with some really deep questions about our relationship to the earth, our assumption that the earth just sort of rolls on, whatever we do, and our role as a species in decision making about how to use the power we have.


James Bradley’s Ghost Species, exploring in fiction the questions of Anthropocene loss and recuperation his also-brilliant nonfiction returns to.

Felicity Plunkett, The Australian, Books of the Year

In Ghost Species James Bradley explores the ethics of species resurrection and the bonds of family love in a time of accelerating climate crisis. Fascinating, thought provoking and moving.

Lucy Treloar, The Sydney Morning Herald, Books of the Year

The climate crisis has shaped James Bradley’s fiction and nonfiction for years. In his latest novel, Ghost Species, that concern takes a slightly unexpected direction: the humanitarian consequences of a corporation’s attempts to revive ancient, extinct species to somehow re-engineer the planet. Sign up for Bookmarks: discover new books in our weekly email Read more Advertisement Kate is wary when the Elon Musk-style entrepreneur and billionaire Davis Hucken enlists her to help him resurrect Neanderthals. Her ethical misgivings overwhelm her when the highly secretive project is successful and a baby is born, and she kidnaps the not-quite human child to raise her as her own. It’s here that the not-so-speculative frame of Bradley’s novel falls away to become a story of grief and love and the nature of family – and also not quite that, as the question at the heart of the novel continually rears its head: how ought we relate to nonhuman beings? Ghost Species is a prescient reminder that it’s not merely imperative that we solve the problem of climate crisis, it matters how.

Stephanie Convery, Guardian, books of the year

Ghost Species is a quietly devastating and immensely affecting novel, wrought with sensitivity and precision. In many ways, Ghost Species presents an ideal of the science fiction novel, a realistic imagining of the whole through the sum of its parts, the universal via the particular. Where other novels splash about in the comfort zone of derivative tropes, playing games in future worlds that are never going to happen, Ghost Species dives deep into now and tomorrow and next week, asking how we are going to survive and what survival might do to us. In its humanity and in its willingness to ask difficult questions, Ghost Species has a clear affiliation with the science fiction of Anne Charnock, whose third novel Dreams Before the Start of Time won the Clarke Award in 2018. It is well worth the read.

Nina Allan

Just read, and can't stop thinking about Ghost Species by James Bradley. Apocalyptic novel of climate change set against a scientific project to revive extinct species. Told via the touching story of a lonely Neanderthal girl and the woman who assumed the role of her mother.

Richard Dawkins, twitter

Discover more

Ghost Species book club notes

Chew over some of life’s big questions with James Bradley’s timely thriller, Ghost Species.