Four times, four places, four genres, four stories.
A story about hunter-gatherers in verse; historical fiction about a witch trial; Lovecraftian horror on Long Island; an astronaut travelling to colonize another world.
The stories can, according to Sedgwick's introduction, be read in any order, as single short pieces or as interconnected parts of a larger whole. They share imagery and themes, explore different facets of the same questions, and connect to each other in a myriad of ways, but they all also stand alone.
But most of all they had the same desire—to find out what was to be found out. To uncover things covered, to explain the mysterious and to put these findings to service in order to help people against the dangers of the world, which were, to put it at its plainest, legion.
It is, in a word, super. A lot of people are understandably comparing it to Midwinterblood, what with the interconnected stories that share themes and all. But it's much more accessible than Midwinterblood, and I think it'll be far less divisive. Because the stories stand alone, because the themes are more overt, and because the various conflicts in the stories feel more concrete, less philosophical and nebulous. It's a longer book, but it's less dense.
Which isn't to say that this isn't a thinking book. Because it very definitely is. But it's possible to read it purely for the stories, too. Which is a nice option to have, as it'll allow for multiple reads with multiple reactions—or for a single read purely for plot, or to enjoy Sedgwick's mastery of disparate genres, even—and there's enough going on that readers will pick up on different elements every time.
That's when it occurs to him, staring through the narrow porthole, he, like all the others on board the Song of Destiny, is not traveling through space in a straight line. The ship itself is traveling in a straight line, but the ship is spinning; so everyone on board is rotating as they move forward at something close to nine-tenths light speed.
He is traveling in a spiral, a helix through space.
I have a full four pages of notes—you should see the Quarter Three freakout when I made the Charles Dexter connection, which went something along the lines of On Drowning malevolent water Lovecraft OMG CHARLES DEXTER WARD WHAAAAAT—but I'll spare you. I've also got notes about connections between Midwinterblood and She is Not Invisible and The Ghosts of Heaven—mainly that, in different ways, all three of them are about searching for a Larger Meaning in life—but I'll spare you that, too. Because this is a good one to go into cold.
Just, even if you weren't a huge fan of Midwinterblood, give The Ghosts of Heaven a read. For real. It'll be well worth it.