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Are you and your family looking forward to seeing Passengers with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt?



Jennifer and Chris may be voyaging into deep space, but this is charted territory...



Yes, you guessed it, my book with Philip Reeve from a couple years ago, Cakes in Space (now published in at least 20 languages)! From the trailer, I can see similar themes...


UK colour hardcover edition, UK black-and-white paperback, USA black-and-white paperback


A ship carrying sleeping passengers on a voyage that will last longer than a lifetime, travelling to colonise a planet:













But while Passengers is a grownup story with romance, ours is seen very much from young Astra's perspective. The thought is being frozen for 199 could be quite scary, but Astra's family helps reassure her.



The beds even look quite cosy (the shapes inspired slightly by my tours of Scottish whisky distilleries).



But just as in Passengers, something goes wrong and Astra wakes up.



Do you remember being a kid and waking up in the night, when everyone's asleep? It's a bit scary and magical at the same time. We were very much inspired by Tove Jansson's Moominland Midwinter, when little Moomintroll wakes up from hibernation in the middle of the winter and steps out into a world of sparkling whiteness. We wondered, what if that same sort of thing happened in the gleaming whiteness of a spaceship? Here's Astra drifting among the pods of sleeping space pioneers. (I loved drawing a landscape without gravity.)



And things have gone very wrong with the ship, but at least Astra has a rather sweet robot friend (named Pilbeam) for company. Could the problem be this strange black sentient spaghetti-like being?



We have Astra stuck in a bubble as we realise the ship is very much Not Alone in space.



But here's where Passengers departs. In Cakes in Space, the initial fault is due to Astra messing around with the ship's food machine, the Nom-O-Tron.



And I'm fairly certain Passengers will not have KILLER CAKES.



Sometimes these things just happen, two groups of people get the same idea at the same time, totally independent of each other. Or perhaps the film producers sat around in a meeting looking at a copy of Cakes in Space going, 'I love this book, and the concept, but... KILLER CAKES? REALLY? No one's going to fall for that one.' Which is exactly what we love about our book, it's a complete flight of fancy and the absurdity of the Cakes take away the distinctly terrifying edge of being trapped in a spaceship with possibly vicious aliens. At the same time, I think it's actually the most profound of our books. Everyone says Pugs of the Frozen North is our book with the most 'heart', because it makes them cry at the end. But I think Cakes in Space touched on something even more deep in us, the idea of being alone in a vast stretch of universe, and having to rally whatever we can find to connect with living people once again.

I'm looking forward to seeing the film, and I hope you and your family can enjoy both our book AND the film! (We find it's popular with boys and girls ages 7+ if people are reading it to themselves, or you can go a bit younger if you're reading it aloud to someone.) Click here for links to the book and to learn how to draw some of its characters.


Photo by Alex Milway

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
mr_sadhead
Nov. 29th, 2016 02:55 pm (UTC)
I like your take on the idea, but the idea has in fact been around forever .. think the sleeping astronauts in 2001, or the crew in the Nostromo in Aliens coming out of hibernation; or the crew in "A Maze of Death" by Phil Dick, sleeping through their voyage while interacting in a virtual reality world set up to keep them alive and thinking in their sleep.

If there are any cakes in this upcoming movie, though, I'd take them to COURT.
spacedlaw
Dec. 1st, 2016 10:21 am (UTC)
What an amazing story!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )