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  • Published: 6 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9781787334342
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 144
  • RRP: $35.00


‘Awe-inspiring’ Max Porter

Six astronauts rotate in their spacecraft contemplating the world below

'Stunning... An uplifting book' SUNDAY TIMES

Life on our planet as you’ve never seen it before: in this spellbinding and uplifting novel six astronauts rotate in the International Space Station. They are there to do vital work, but slowly they begin to wonder: what is life without earth? What is earth without humanity?

Together they watch their silent blue planet, circling it sixteen times, spinning past continents, and cycling through seasons, taking in glaciers and deserts, the peaks of mountains and the swells of oceans. Endless shows of spectacular beauty witnessed in a single day.

Yet although separated from the world they cannot escape its constant pull. News reaches them of the death of a mother, and with it comes thoughts of returning home. They look on as a typhoon gathers over an island and people they love, in awe of its magnificence and fearful of its destruction.

The fragility of human life fills their conversations, their fears, their dreams. So far from earth, they have never felt more part - or protective - of it.

'A slim, profound study of intimate human fears set against epic vistas' GUARDIAN


  • Published: 6 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9781787334342
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 144
  • RRP: $35.00

About the author

Samantha Harvey

Samantha Harvey is the author of The Wilderness, All Is Song, Dear Thief and The Western Wind. She appeared on the longlists for the Bailey’s Prize and the Man Booker, and the shortlists of the James Tait Black Award, the Orange Prize, the Guardian First Book Award and the Walter Scott Prize. The Wilderness won the Betty Trask Award in 2009. She is a tutor on the MA course in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Also by Samantha Harvey

See all

Praise for Orbital

Orbital is a magnificent, thunderous work and yet so brief, so fleeting. It is an elegy to planet Earth in all its splendour and fragility. Exquisitely well-written, it confirms Samantha Harvey as a singular talent

Nathan Filer, author of The Shock of the Fall

This generation's Virginia Woolf


Beautiful in every aspect

Sarah Moss, author of Summerwater

One of the most beautiful novels I have read in a very long time

Mark Haddon, author of The Porpoise

Six astronauts on a space station are working, sleeping, and watching the world go by. They think about typhoons, algal blooms, seascapes, cities at night, Velázquez, frog calls, fried eggs, family. Orbital is a lush description of the gorgeous earth, and a broad-minded, level-headed, affectionate take on what goes on down here

Daisy Hildyard, author of Emergency

A gorgeous song of praise from on high, a hymn sung in starlight to celebrate mankind's courage and endeavour

Mike McCormack, author of Solar Bones

One of the UK's most exquisite stylists


This is such a beautiful book you have to adjust your readerly heart to take it all in... It is an awe-inspiring and humbling love letter to Earth and those who reckon with the gift of it

Max Porter, author of Shy

A slim, profound study of intimate human fears set against epic vistas of swirling weather patterns and rolling continents

Guardian, *Autumn Picks of 2023*

Lovely lyrical prose... This gorgeous meditation leaves readers feeling as if they’re floating in the same 'dark unswimmable sea'

Publishers Weekly, *Starred Review*

A fascinating glimpse inside a home so few will ever see. Her lyrical prose skillfully contrasts the technicalities of space travel with the ever-present inspiration of the gleaming planet below... This slim novel is so much more than the sum of its parts. Luminous and profound, Orbital is hard to put down and even harder to forget


Stunning… The beauty of the prose engages the reader fully… An uplifting book

Sunday Times

In contrast to the bleak apocalyptic tone of much contemporary climate fiction, Orbital’s luminous descriptions remind us of the beauty at stake when humanity plays fast and loose with our single, and singular, blue marble

Financial Times

Very beautiful and very special

New Scientist

Otherworldly… Gorgeously written and offers a intriguing perspective on the human race’s treatment of our planet

Good Housekeeping

This genius novel… Asks big questions about humanity and the fragility of our lives… A short yet exquisite read


Harvey’s impressively researched, poetic novel carries a powerful ecological message. Above all, thought, it’s a brilliantly imaginative account of life with the vastness of the cosmos just outside your window

Mail on Sunday

A slender, gleaming novel… Weaving a line of philosophical enquiry through her luminous prose has become something of a trademark for Samantha Harvey


Compelling... Orbital is a hopeful book and it studies people who act on their hope. It’s an Anthropocene book resistant to doom

Guardian, *Book of the Day*

A gorgeous novel… An intensely charged reading experience, sustained by the sensory thrill of Harvey’s imaginative attention to detail

Daily Mail

Orbital is the rarest of things, a book that satisfies both my lifelong obsession with space travel and my hunger for sentences and paragraphs that demand to be read and reread… My goodness this novel is beautiful

New Statesman, *Books of the Year*

In this slender novel, Harvey seems to have encompassed all of humanity… It is an extraordinary achievement


Orbital could be her best yet… It is sensual and poetic and concerned with the granular experiences of the individual

Wales Art Review, *Books of the Year*

In outer space the author hits on the pure swirlingness that her previous works seem to aspire to. The characters’ thoughts mix and flow with the colours and light… Sumptuously written

Times Literary Supplement

One of our most consistently surprising novelists rips up the rulebook again… A boldly imaginative meditation on time and the nature of existence

Daily Mail, *Books of the Year*

Mesmerising… Harvey blends prose of poetic beauty with a clarion call to take responsibility for where we live… Orbital deserves to propel Harvey to far greater recognition


Orbital is one of the most beautiful and poignant novels I have read this year… There is something profoundly compelling about this short novel

Scotsman on Sunday

Harvey beautifully evokes the wonder and fragility of our planet and its inhabitants. An uplifting book, in every sense

Guardian, *Books of the Year*

Orbital has a weird, cumulative power that makes it feel like a fever dream

Big Issue, *Books of the Year*

Orbital is entirely original, a serenely beautiful and intelligent creation

Mail on Sunday, *Books of the Year*

An exquisite little novel... Weaves lyrically between the minds of the characters and the aesthetics of Earth as seen from above

Radio Times