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Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in Ryka Aoki's Light From Uncommon Stars, a defiantly joyful adventure set in California's San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts.
Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.
When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka's ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She's found her final candidate.
But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn't have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan's kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul's worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.
As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.
RYKA AOKI (she/her) is a poet, composer, teacher, and novelist. Her latest novel, Light From Uncommon Stars, was an Alex, SCKA, and Otherwise Award winner, and was also a finalist for the Hugo, Locus, and Ignyte Awards.
Ryka is a two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist for her collections Seasonal Velocities, and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul, and her first novel, He Mele a Hilo, was callled one of the "10 Best Books Set in Hawaii" by Bookriot. She has been recognized by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people,” and her work has appeared or been recognized in publications including Vogue, Elle, Bustle, Autostraddle, PopSugar, and Buzzfeed, as well as the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. She was also honored to work with the American Association of Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, where two of her compositions were adopted as the organization’s “songs of peace.”
She has an MFA in creative writing from Cornell University, and is currently a professor of English at Santa Monica College.