The Past Is Red (Hardcover)

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If you’re looking for science fiction that will reach into your chest and grab onto your heart, you can always depend on Cat Valente. Decades after the Polar Ice Caps melt, Tetley Abednego lives in Garbagetown, a floating patch of garbage that has been shaped into its own continent. This book brings joy to a future that feels bleak, and grapples with how fragile hope is. Like much of Valente’s work, this book perfectly balances wit and humor with lines that made me put the book down and stare at the wall. You won’t want to miss out on this journey through a post-apocalyptic wasteland. 

— Katherine


“The Candide of our #@$\*%?! age.”— Ken Liu, award-winning author

Catherynne M. Valente, the bestselling and award-winning creator of Space Opera and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland returns with The Past is Red, the enchanting, dark, funny, angry story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world.

The future is blue. Endless blue…except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown.

Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she’s the only one who knows it. She’s the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it’s full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time.

But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.

About the Author

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, Radiance, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (and the four books that followed it). She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Sturgeon, Eugie Foster Memorial, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, and Hugo awards, as well as the Prix Imaginales. Valente has also been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

Find her online at and on Twitter @catvalente.

Praise For…

“A gorgeous, funny, melancholy, splendid romp through a post-apocalyptic wonderland in which hope and despair are indistinguishable, and the human spirit burns with the joy and rage of a thousand suns. The Candide of our #@$\*%?! age.”— Ken Liu, award-winning author of The Paper Menagerie and The Grace of Kings, on The Past is Red

“Valente’s writing DNA is full of fable, fairy tale and myth drawn from deep wells worldwide.” —New York Times, on The Bread We Eat in Dreams

“Valente [has a] gorgeous way with words and impressive genre flexibility as she moves from science fiction to fairy tale to comedic horror with her singular linguistic flair.” —Booklist, on The Future is Blue

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250301130
ISBN-10: 1250301130
Publisher: Tordotcom
Publication Date: July 20th, 2021
Pages: 160
Language: English