Elly Bangs’ compelling, interesting, and topical UNITY is a powerful exploration of trauma and consent

Though not coming out until April, Elly Bangs’ debut novel UNITY is already garnering considerable praise. UNITY is currently available for pre-order through all finer booksellers or direct from Tachyon.

Bethan Ackerley at NEW SCIENTIST enjoys the topical book.

LAST month, with the world still reeling from the siege of the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump, President Joe Biden used his inaugural address to call for national unity. “The American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us,” he said. “On ‘We the People’ who seek a more perfect union.”

In the days since, debate has raged as to whether such a union is achievable or even desirable. These are issues sci-fi writer Elly Bangs also wrestles with in her debut novel, UNITY. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, we follow Danae as she flees Bloom City, an underwater colony ruled with an iron fist by the Medusa Clan.


UNITY is packed full of ideas, sometimes overwhelmingly so, but they ultimately cohere into a powerful exploration of trauma and consent.

Emily Whitmore for BOOKLIST feels much the same.

The apocalyptic landscape is terrifying, beautiful, and well thought out. Readers may very well draw parallels between this future-U.S. and our current reality. A compelling and interesting take on the end of the world.

Arley Sorg for CLARKESWORLD interviews the author.

UNITY opens with these very damaged characters in a fairly bleak setting. What do you enjoy most about writing characters such as these, and why do readers love following damaged characters?

Personally, I feel like a damaged character in a bleak setting pretty much every day. I figure most people do at least some of the time. So, I find a kind of healing magic in stories about profoundly damaged people who are nonetheless loved deeply by people around them, who survive their bleak settings, and who grow and adapt through that—in ways that make them into people who aren’t exactly the people they would have chosen to be from the outset, but who are nonetheless extremely worth being. Stories like that have gotten me through a lot.

The characters in UNITY are cut in quick, strong strokes: Within a few lines the reader gets a good sense of who an individual is. What is the key to strong characterization?

If I’ve accomplished that, it’s all a matter of ample revision. At some point I figured out it takes me longer to properly get to know a character than it does to write one draft of a novel. Once I really know them, though—like they’re family, and I can hear their voices in my head—they find ways to come through vividly in very small details. That’s when everything becomes fun, too.

TWO HOUR TRANSPORT, a monthly reading event, announces Elly Bangs as their new MC.

We would like to introduce a new member of our team.  She featured for us at our very first Two Hour Transport event and since then has come to nearly every show.  Her debut novel Unity is forthcoming from Tachyon Publications in April.  She once rode her bike from Seattle to Panama. You know her, you love her, please give a warm and boisterous welcome (even though you’re reading this) to Elly Bangs. Elly is our new Two Hour Transport MC.