ORIGAMY: Synthetic Biology Fiction

So I’m a bunch of the way through Rachel Armstrong’s ORIGAMY now, and here’s the thing:

There’s a field of rogue mutant hair transplants, and the hair field is grazed upon by a trip of transgenic goats, and there’s like five pages on the digestive processes of these goats, including shoals of microsquid that live in one of the four stomachs. And it’s brilliant.

If you’re not up for that: the book is about people who use chopsticks to tie knots in spacetime for travel purposes.  And art.

Rachel is a synthetic biologist — I met her at a think-tank in Eindhoven a few years ago — and ORIGAMY is what happens when you let a synthetic biologist write a full work of speculative fiction.  Possibly this practice will be banned after ORIGAMY is released.

It’s an incredibly dense piece of bizarre fantastika balanced artfully on a very simple structure, a journey of discovery, secrets and ancient threats. Parts feel like they’ve come from fable, or folk tales about strange circus people. In reading it, I’ve gotten through about ten pages at a time before having to stop and stare into space and process everything that’s just been dumped into my head.  It’s like she freebased twelve novels into one intense concentrated rock.

ORIGAMY is a magnificent, glittering explosion of a book: a meditation on creation, the poetry of science and the insane beauty of everything. You’re going to need this.

It comes out on April 3 2018, and, afterwards, there will only be people who have read ORIGAMY and people who have not, and neither of them will be able to understand the other.

You can pre-order it direct from the publisher here, or through Amazon (UK) (US)