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Writer Arsén’s debut blends historical and science fiction

Left, the book cover for Isa Arsén's book "Shoot the Moon," the back of a young woman who is looking at mountains in the distance and stars in the sky. Right, photo of the author.
Luke Hill
Author's website
Isa Arsén is the author of Shoot the Moon.

Isa Arsén’s “Shoot the Moon” is a unique and engaging debut that twists genres.

South Texas writer Isa Arsén knew she wanted her debut story to have romance and drama, but she also wanted to twist the genres.

Arsén’s new novel is called Shoot the Moon and she considers it a “puzzle box, time travel story.” In our What We’re Reading interview, Arsén noted, “It’s got some romance. It’s got a little bit of science fiction. It’s historical fiction. It’s sort of a family study and a character drama all at once.”

The story features the character Annie Fisk, who has always wanted to study science. She goes to college for physics and is extraordinarily talented at it, and eventually lands a job at NASA during the Apollo 11 mission. There, Annie makes a startling discovery that changes everything she knows to be scientifically sound.

"A lot of Shoot the Moon is viewing science as progress instead of conquest."
Author Isa Arsén

This discovery or anomaly is very specific to Annie and as we get flashbacks into Annie’s childhood throughout the book, her sad memories of her father and a complicated relationship with her mother become more clear, whole and understandable.

Arsén noted how she drew inspiration from the 2016 film Arrival, which featured a female protagonist who was able to successfully communicate with an alien species — upholding the idea that science can nurture care.

Arsén explained, "A lot of Shoot the Moon is viewing science as progress instead of conquest."

In writing historical fiction, Arsén appreciates being able to bring modern sensibilities to a specific time.

“You look at history, you look at humanity and there’s always been a place for bold, ambitious women and other marginalized people, but we don’t often get their stories told,” she said. “They don’t tend to be the ones at the top of the pyramid who get to decide what gets to last throughout history.”

Find out more about writer Isa Arsén at her website.

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Tammy works at Bemidji State University's library, and she hosts "What We're Reading," a show about books and authors.