eBook, 208 pages

Published by Grove Atlantic.

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5 stars (2 reviews)

A singular new novel from Betty Trask Prize–winner Samantha Harvey, Orbital is an eloquent meditation on space and life on our planet through the eyes of six astronauts circling the earth in 24 hours.

A slender novel of epic power, Orbital deftly snapshots one day in the lives of six women and men hurtling through space—not towards the moon or the vast unknown, but around our planet. Selected for one of the last space station missions of its kind before the program is dismantled, these astronauts and cosmonauts—from America, Russia, Italy, Britain, and Japan—have left their lives behind to travel at a speed of over seventeen thousand miles an hour as the earth reels

below. We glimpse moments of their earthly lives through brief communications with family, their photos and talismans; we watch them whip up dehydrated meals, float in gravity-free sleep, and exercise in regimented routines to prevent atrophying …

1 edition

reviewed Orbital by Samantha Harvey

my bookclub did not like this

5 stars

Look, this is not-a-novel and is not-sci-fi, unless we freeze and shatter those definitions - but I would read more fictive-philosophical-observational whatever this was on most any subject. There's no plot, there's hardly movement as we do just what it says at the top, circle the earth 16 times in a single day aboard the space station. Instead, we dive deeply into the human experience of Earth, family and civilization and war and politics and futures, and separation and disorientation from it all.

Goodreads Review of Orbital by Samantha Harvey

4 stars

Thanks so much to the publisher for providing an advanced reader copy for me to review.

Firstly, this book contains the exact recipe for a book that I would love. To Be Taught If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers, Providence by Max Barry, The Freeze Frame Revolution and Blindsight by Peter Watts... if it involves a few people on a spaceship together with no space and no choice but to become deeply invested in each other's lives, I'm very likely going to love it.

Orbital by Samantha Harvey was no exception. We follow one "day" cycle of 6 astronauts from different backgrounds orbiting the earth in the present day, 16 orbits total. However briefly in this quick ~200 page book, we get to spend an intimate amount of time with these astronauts: their thoughts, their duties, and their relationships, almost as if we are the seventh astronaut sharing the claustrophobic space …


  • Science Fiction
  • General Fiction
  • Literary Fiction