Monsters Demand Visibility, Acceptance and Safety in Cadwell Turnbull’s No Gods, No Monsters

Cadwell Turnbull appeared on New Books in Science Fiction two years ago to discuss his debut novel, The Lesson, about an alien invasion and colonization of Earth, centered around Turnbull’s native U.S. Virgin Islands.

He returns in this episode to talk with me about his second book, No Gods, No Monsters, which, rather than aliens from another planet, features monsters who live among us as our friends, neighbors and even relatives. While ostensibly about the fantastical, the novel is grounded in reality with complex characters whose experiences touch on difficult but important issues like police violence, othering, and even fake news.

While the two books have different characters and storylines, Turnbull calls them “sister books.”

Aliens and monsters “are both versions of human fears manifested through these speculative elements,” Turnbull says. “One is dealing with a threat from without, and one is dealing with a threat from within. And they both have similar thematic concerns.”

Among the topics we discuss are the human propensity to deny uncomfortable truths; the challenge of those with different beliefs accepting the same version of reality (even when reality is captured on video); how monsters can provide a window on intersectional marginalization; and how writing can be like solving a puzzle.

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