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Canine Carl Sagan, rocket ships and interstellar iPods: a peek into Detroiter’s new YA novel

picture of book cover and Jack Cheng side by side
Courtesy of Jack Cheng
"See You in the Cosmos" is Detroit writer Jack Cheng's first young adult novel.

His name is Alex Petroski. He’s eleven years old. His best friend is the stray dog he adopted and named after his hero, astronomer Carl Sagan.

Together, they set out on a road trip to attend SHARF – that’s the (fictional) Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival. Along the way, Alex adds recordings to an iPod that he hopes will one day find the ears of extraterrestrials.

Alex is the central character in a newly-released young adult novel, See You in the Cosmos. Its author, Jack Cheng, immigrated to Michigan at age 5 and today lives in Detroit.

He told us that the road trip his protagonist takes is not only a quest to make contact with intelligent life in other worlds. It’s also about finding one’s place in this world.

“Alex has this father that he never knew, so he’s really trying to find his role in the shaping of his family,” Cheng said. “I think he’s using and talking to the aliens as a way of talking things out himself.”

You can listen above to our full interview with author Jack Cheng, in which he also explains how the WNYC program Radiolab helped inspire his story.

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