We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep: Odd, unsettling, lovely

We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep by Andrew Kelly StewartWe Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep by Andrew Kelly Stewart

We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep by Andrew Kelly Stewart science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsWhen she was a small child, Remy was rescued from death by a chaplain who oversees the monks on a submarine called Leviathan. They carry the world’s last nuclear missile and their mission is to wait, protecting the missile, until God tells them it’s time to deploy it against the wicked Earth on judgement day.

Remy’s job is to sing in the choir of eunuchs, a crucial role that keeps up morale. Her voice will remain high because she’s a girl (a secret that only the chaplain knows), so she is not in danger of being pulled out of the choir and sent to work in the engine room where the nuclear reactor is. That’s a dangerous job that soon leads to a wasting illness and eventual death. But as Remy hears her best friend’s voice begin to change, she worries about his fate and begins to question all she’s been told about the world.


We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep
(2021), Andrew Kelly Stewart’s debut novella, is a lovely, haunting, and gripping story about a vulnerable girl who is having a crisis of faith as she desperately tries to save the life of her best friend while keeping her own identity hidden. Remy, who knows no life outside this cult on a submarine, and has had no opportunity to learn any other ways of thinking, is someone the reader can immediately sympathize with. I cared about Remy, felt her confusion and desperation, and wanted to see her escape.

Andrew Kelly Stewart

Andrew Kelly Stewart

Remy’s plight takes place in an alternate 1986 after the Cuban Missile Crisis went a different way. Stewart’s setting, a dark, cramped, submerged submarine carrying the world’s last nuclear warhead, is chilling. There are regular subtle reminders, such as the human teeth that the crew use as currency, that this is a dangerous place to live. The fact that the threat is unseen and poorly understood makes it all the more spooky. There’s a sense that the invisible radiation is all around, warping the crew in strange ways. The only ray of light is the beautiful sacred music that Remy and the choristers produce.

We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep is an odd and unsettling little story that, according to an interview I read at Tor.com (who published it) was inspired by the Branch Davidian massacre (which Stewart witnessed from afar), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, A Canticle for Leibowitz, the Cold War, and a dose of Percocet. Yeah… that sounds about right.

It will not surprise me to see We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep on next year’s awards lists. I listened to Tantor Audio’s version which was narrated by Mia Ellis. Other than mispronouncing the word “victuals,” she gives a lovely performance that I recommend.

Published in March 2021. A Canticle for Leibowitz meets The Hunt for Red October in We Shall Sing a Song into the Deep, a lyrical and pause-resisting coming-of-age exploration of duty, belief, and the post-apocalypse from breakout newcomer Andrew Kelly Stewart. Remy is a Chorister, rescued from the surface world and raised to sing in a choir of young boys. Remy is part of a strange crew who control the Leviathan, an aging nuclear submarine, that bears a sacred mission: to trigger the Second Coming when the time is right. But Remy has a secret, too – she’s the submarine’s only girl. Gifted with the missile’s launch key by the Leviathan‘s dying chaplain, she swears to keep it safe. Safety, however, is not the priority of the new chaplain, who has his own ideas about the mission. When a surface-dweller is captured during a raid, Remy’s faith becomes completely overturned. Now, her last judgement may transform the fate of everything.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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One comment

  1. Jana Nyman /

    This sounds so lovely (and terrifying).

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