Ascension is a novel about the end of nature, or rather, the end of three “natures”: the time just before Darwin changed the natural world; the 1980s, just as the digital and genetic revolutions begin to replace “nature” with “environment”; and today, a time when we have the ability to manipulate nature at both the scale of the planet and at the genome. The narrative follows three different biologists on the brink of each of these cultural extinctions to explore how nature occupies our imaginations and how our imaginations bring the natural world, and our place in it, into existence.
“Tackling the catastrophes of colonization, digitization, and encroaching extinction, what history feels like at a scale where homo sapiens become the size of stray thoughts, Ascension is both a brilliant contemplation of just how wrong we’ve become, how poorly we’ve read the text of our planet and ourselves, and a keen exploration into how we represent these unimaginables through our culturally-inflected imaginations. Rich with vast research, thought, illumination, every page a unique visual space, Ascension is, like all Steve Tomasula’s work, a mind-boggling report sent back from the library of the future."
—Lance Olsen, author of Skin Elegies and My Red Heaven
Steve Tomasula is the author of Once Human: Stories, and the novels IN & OZ, The Book of Portraiture, TOC: A New-Media Novel, and VAS: An Opera in Flatland. He is the editor of Conceptualisms: The Anthology of Prose, Poetry, Visual, Found, E- & Hybrid Writing as Contemporary Art. His essays on literature and art have also appeared widely. He lives in Chicago and at www.stevetomasula.com.