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The Philosopher's Flight
Cover of The Philosopher's Flight
The Philosopher's Flight
A Novel
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"Rarely does a novel begin with rollicking fierceness that grabs readers from its opening lines and doesn't loosen its grip or lessen its hold all the way through... Miller's writing is intoxicating and one doesn't need to be a fantasy or sci-fi fan to adore this book."—Kim Curtis, Associated Press

"The Philosopher's Flight by debut novelist Tom Miller has already set a high bar for any book vying to be the most entertaining novel of 2018."—Ian Schwartz, Bookpage

A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher's Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art. "Like his characters, Tom Miller casts a spell." (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer)
Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women's school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle's activism and Robert's recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert's mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert's place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy's very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher's Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.
"Rarely does a novel begin with rollicking fierceness that grabs readers from its opening lines and doesn't loosen its grip or lessen its hold all the way through... Miller's writing is intoxicating and one doesn't need to be a fantasy or sci-fi fan to adore this book."—Kim Curtis, Associated Press

"The Philosopher's Flight by debut novelist Tom Miller has already set a high bar for any book vying to be the most entertaining novel of 2018."—Ian Schwartz, Bookpage

A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher's Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art. "Like his characters, Tom Miller casts a spell." (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer)
Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women's school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle's activism and Robert's recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert's mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert's place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy's very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher's Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.
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About the Author-
  • Tom Miller grew up in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He graduated from Harvard University and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame and an MD from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of The Philosopher's Flight and The Philosopher's War. He works as an emergency room doctor.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    December 1, 2017
    In a world of woman-dominated practical magic, a young man yearns to make a place for himself.Debut novelist Miller offers a wealth of worldbuilding in this deft, nonconformist historical fantasy set during World War I. The novel is set up as a nostalgic account written by Robert Weekes, a field commander in the Free North American Air Cavalry, in 1939, and his prologue introduces us to this alternate reality. Immense power is wielded here by "empirical philosophers," nearly all women. "All of us are empirical philosophers, or sigilrists if you prefer the common term," Weekes says. "And what is empirical philosophy--what is sigilry--except a branch of science that we don't yet fully understand? There's no dark art to it; it's nothing more than the movement of energy to produce a physical effect. The human body provides the power, while the sigil, drawn sometimes with beads of water, sometimes with cornmeal or sand, catalyzes the movement. You can do a thousand useful things: make a plant grow larger and faster; send a message a thousand miles in an instant; fly. If you grew up with it, it's natural. It's right. Why would anyone want life to be otherwise?" In other words, a world where women control the power. It's also a divided world in which "trenchers" fear and hate empirical philosophers and threaten their very lives. When the story begins, Weekes is a Montana farm boy, but he's an ambitious one who yearns to join the Rescue and Evacuation Division of the US Sigilry Corps, fliers capable of incredible feats. After a harrowing wilderness rescue, Weekes earns a place at Radcliffe College, where he bonds with a cadre of formidable women. More importantly, he meets Danielle Hardin, jaded hero of the Battle of Gallipoli, who quickly earns his affections. Because the novel relies heavily on the mechanics of flying, it could have read like a Harry Potter novel all about Quidditch. Instead, Miller offers a nuanced adventure story that mixes romance, gunplay, and social awareness into its steampunk-ish revelry.A fun, fast-paced coming-of-age story laced with magic.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 18, 2017
    Miller’s imaginative debut reads like an American cousin to Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, filtering 19th and 20th century U.S. history through a scrim of magical science. Women make for better magicians—here called empirical philosophers—than men; they have greater ability to cast spells and fly. When America enters World War I in 1917, 18-year-old Robert Weekes, the son of an empirical philosopher, wants to enlist in the U.S. Sigilry Corps’ flying Rescue and Evacuation Service, the elite of the elite. There’s just one problem, though—the unit doesn’t accept men. Nevertheless, Robert perseveres and is admitted to Radcliffe College, the all-female school for magic, to train for the R&E. There, he falls in love with Danielle Hardin, already a heroine of the Great War in the Dardanelles campaign, who is dedicated to defeating the Trenchers, a radical group that wants to eradicate the empirical philosophers and their magic. Robert must overcome the odds and prove that he has the right magic stuff. Though Robert is a rather flat hero, the history of this alternate world and its magic tech are inventively executed. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM Partners.

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