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As Asteroidea opens, Professor Claire Holt is at a crossroads in her life. She has spent her career researching cell regeneration in asteroidea—sea stars—trying to transfer that ability to mammals. With her grants running out, and her eldest daughter about to give birth to her first grandchild, Claire finds herself frustrated and thinking about retirement. In order to deal with her frustration, she takes a trip out to Oregon, where she was born, to seek the company of old friends, and to come to terms with her past. She had, when she was younger, a tight-knit group of women friends there, with whom she wants to reconnect, but she is also searching for news of her father, who abandoned the family when she was a child.
While visiting, she makes a startling discovery: not only is her father alive and remarried, but both her parents, born in the South, had left the region in order to pass for white in the segregated 1950s. Her father, a physician, roused by the Civil Rights Movement, decided to return to the African-American community; but her mother balked, demanded a divorce, full custody, and continued to pass. Claire must now reconsider her relationship to her mother, her effaced African-America heritage, and her future. Meanwhile, a new graduate student arrives at her lab, full of admiration for her work, which in turn re-inspires her. As she and her student begin to make some serious progress with a newly discovered species of asteroidea, that has mutated to deal with climate change, Claire begins to regenerate her own life.
Paperback: 182 pages
Product dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
Publishing date: November 9, 2020
After attending the Haystack Writing Workshop with Ursula K. Le Guin and Vonda N. McIntyre, Stephanie A. Smith took her PhD from UC Berkeley; she is the author of The Warpaint Trilogy (2012-14); Other Nature (1995-7); The-Boy-Who-Was-Thrown-Away and Snow-Eyes (1985/87); academic criticism Conceived By Liberty (Cornell 1995) and Household Words (Minnesota 2006); as well as numerous short stories, creative non-fiction and scholarly essays published in journals such as New Letters, differences, American Literature, and Genre. She has held fiction residencies at the Writer’s Colony, the VCCA, the Noepe Center, Hedgebrook, Norcroft, Provincetown and Dorland and was an NEH Scholar at UCLA.