Above the Ether

A mesmerizing novel about a modern day dystopia, as six sets of people move through a landscape and a country beginning to show the signs of profound and awful change. From Arcade Publishing, June 2019.

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“Barnes’ spare and chilling prose flows from one horrific scene to another without, surprisingly, alienating his readers, perhaps because the heart of his narrative ultimately reveals an abiding faith in the power of human compassion. A first-rate apocalyptic page-turner.” - Booklist

“In twenty years—or less—people will have a hard time believing that this is a work of the imagination; that's how convincingly Barnes plays out the signs and omens of our times. That he conjures this dark forecast without ever naming a soul or the cities they live in does not make the story more otherworldly, but only more chillingly recognizable.” - Tim Johnston, NY Times bestselling author of THE CURRENT

Above the Ether depicts a dystopia more terrifying because of its proximity to our own, yet this novel is also saturated by hope. In this world, people can rise above their pasts, and humanity can endure change and hardship. Barnes is also just a terrific writer of both story and sentence.” - Elise Blackwell, author of THE LOWER QUARTER and HUNGER

“The world of Eric Barnes’ novel Above the Ether suffers destruction of Biblical proportions. Flood, fire, pestilence, famine — the rolling cataclysms have an Old Testament tenor and scope. Though the novel builds in intensity as the story lines interweave, it derives its power from the poetic quality of its language.” - Chapter 16


A mesmerizing novel of unfolding dystopia amid the effects of climate change in a world very like our own, for readers of Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven and Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood.

In this prequel to Eric Barnes's acclaimed novel The City Where We Once Lived, six sets of characters move through a landscape and a country just beginning to show the signs of cataclysmic change. A father and his young children fleeing a tsunami after a massive earthquake in the Gulf. A woman and her husband punishing themselves without relent for the loss of both their sons to addiction, while wildfires slowly burn closer to their family home. A brilliant investor, assessing opportunity in the risk to crops, homes, cities, industries, and infrastructure, working in the silent comfort of her office sixty floors up in the scorching air. A doctor and his wife stuck in a refugee camp for immigrants somewhere in a southern desert. Two young men working the rides for a roadside carnival, one escaping a brutal past, the other a racist present. The manager of a chain of nondescript fast-food restaurants in a city ravaged by the relentless wind..

While every night the news alternates images of tsunami destruction with the baseball scores, the characters converge on a city where the forces of change have already broken—a city half abandoned, with one part left to be scavenged as the levee system protecting it slowly fails—until, in their vehicles on the highway that runs through it, they witness the approach of what looks to be just one more violent storm.