A Description of the Blazing World 

by Michael Murphy


April 2011
5.5 x 8.5 paper 236 pages
CDN $21.95 | US $21.95

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Longlisted for the 2012 ReLit Award for Novel

Finalist for the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award

After Morgan Wells’s wife leaves him, a postcard from France arrives. It is addressed to a Morgan Wells—but not the Morgan Wells who receives it. Desperate to be led out of his despair, Morgan decides to read the postcard as a sign and embark upon a surreal journey to find, observe, and meet the other Morgan Wellses in the city of Toronto.

On the day that a 2003 citywide power outage submerges Toronto in darkness, a teenage boy finds a missive of his own: a copy of Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World, one of the first science fiction novels ever written. The boy, obsessed with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, interprets the coincidence of finding the book during the blackout as a premonition, and begins looking for proof that the end of the world is near.

A Description of the Blazing World interlaces two narratives in a novel about the city in the new millennium: a crowded space that incubates signs of an apocalypse that never quite materializes. But it is this very threat of imminent danger—that everything could go up in blazes—that drives a reclusive man and a lonely boy to search for their respective revelations.

“With its fantabulous writing and labyrinthine teasing,
A Description of the Blazing World makes me cheery and jubilant, even and especially when its characters are so miserable. Not one, but two protagonists roam through this startling debut novel, searching – literally – for themselves. Readers will join in as both young men pace the streets of Toronto, trusting these choose-your-own-map adventures, even as their choices unravel and expire. Funny, stirring, tender, smart, and smartass, Michael Murphy’s fiction is ablaze with fiery insights.” – Nicole Markotic
Toronto writer Murphy’s debut novel blazes with imagination,” Candace Fertile, Edmonton Journal, July 31, 2011.
Review, Nathan Whitlock, National Post, June 2011.