A science-fiction story about queer teens traveling across the astral plane? This one-of-a-kind premise and a dreamy cover were enough for us to put Mike Albo’s upcoming new-age novel Another Dimension Of Us (ADOU) on our TBRs.
The book kicks off one summer in 1986, three months before one of our protagonists gets lost in the astral plane (which the prologue reveals, not us). Mike gives us Tommy and Renaldo on the last day of school, basking in the warmth of their friendship in a very Call Me By Your Name vibe. But oh wait, he brings science fiction into the story as Renaldo adorably starts geeking out about astral projection to Tommy in a library. With a writing style that pulls us in and characters unique enough we can’t help but adore, the author manages to blend romance and sci-fi, raising the stakes and hooking the readers to his novel pretty soon. We’re excited to see how Tommy and Renaldo’s relationship fairs across the astral plane and where other characters fit in. Moreover, there’s even a demon to look out for!
Reading the book’s first chapter alone was such an emotional rollercoaster for us that we couldn’t wait to dig in deeper with Mike to know more. But don’t worry, we kept our curiosity spoiler-free!
Summary: The Breakfast Club meets Brit Marling’s The OA in this thrilling science fiction story about teens from the past and the future who travel across the astral plane save the ones they love.
In 1986, Tommy Gaye is in love with his best friend, budding teen poet Renaldo Calabasas. But at the height of the AIDS crisis and amidst the homophobia running rampant across America, Tommy can never share his feelings. Then, one terrible night, Renaldo is struck by lightning. And he emerges from the storm a very different boy.
In 2044, Herron High student Pris Devrees jolts awake after having a strange nightmare about a boy named Tommy and a house in the neighborhood the locals affectionally call “The Murder House.” When she ventures to the house to better understand her vivid dreams, she happens upon an old self-help book that she soon realizes is a guide to trans-dimensional travel.
As bodies and minds merge across the astral plane, Pris, Tommy, and their friends race to save Renaldo from a dangerous demon, while uncovering potent realities about love, sexuality, and friendship.
Good day, and welcome to The Honey POP! We are very excited to speak with you today. To get things started, could you please tell us three interesting facts about yourself?
Hello! One, I am a comedian and performer as well as a writer and have performed over seven solo shows and countless comedy and storytelling gigs. Two, I love to swim in the ocean and have participated in several open-water swims, including one across the east river under the Brooklyn Bridge. Three, I have a collection of new-age books that I cherish. They range in subjects from Psychic Protection and Channelling to Astral Projection which became the inspiration for Another Dimension of Us.
We are so excited to read Another Dimension of Us! Can you please tell our readers a bit about ADOU and how it’s different or similar to your previous works?
ADOU is about a group of queer 15-year-olds who live in the past and future (1986 and 2044) and who find a mysterious book about astral projection. When a demon possesses the ones they love, the characters must team together and travel to the astral plane to save them.
When the pandemic hit, I began thinking about the last time I was terrified of a virus — growing up gay in the 80s — and how teenagers now must be grappling with similar feelings: fear, anger, hopelessness for the future but, still, despite it all, they retained this unbreakable will to live and love who they want to love. I began thinking about how kids from different times could meet and share their experiences.
I would say my work is always inherently from a queer perspective, but this book is the first time I have created characters who, on the surface, are much more different than myself (though in many ways, Tommy, Pris, Jayde, and Dara are all aspects of me). It’s also my first book written in the close third person.
The blurb of Another Dimension of Us describes it as “The Breakfast Club meets Brit Marling’s The OA.” Which themes from The Breakfast Club and The OA do we get to see in ADOU?
Both The OA and The Breakfast Club center on outcasts who wouldn’t normally meet and support each other. I wanted to explore themes of friendship across and despite class, race, gender, age, and, in this case, time.
Apart from astral projection, are there any other sci-fi elements we need to know about before reading the book?
Yes! Like I mentioned, this book partially takes place in 2044, in a landscape that has been affected by climate change and something called “‘The Virus.” It is also a time when people can have holographic partners, when there is a new athletic sport where players throw a frisbee-like disk, and when everyone has access to their genomic history and ancestry, except the odd one out who doesn’t seem to have any record of themselves, cruelly called “Zeroes,” like one of our characters, Pris.
While we get to meet Tommy and Renaldo in the first few pages of the book, we’re yet to meet Pris. Can you tell us a bit about her?
Pris is 15 and has a hopeless crush on one of the most popular girls in school. She is very athletic but also is a budding poet (like many of the characters in the book) and writes love poems about this crush that, unfortunately, gets exposed across her school. Pris is also Black and has unusual skin – having a form of vitiligo that leaves her looking striped across her body. She is teased a lot for this. Her best friend is Jayde, a trans/nonbinary individual who is just coming into their looks, and it causes Pris to feel like they are growing distant. Pris also has an uncanny ability to astral project! She really is the brave hero of ADOU, and she came to me first when conceiving the book.
How did you come up with the dictionary game Tommy and Renaldo play? Is there a real story behind it?
I love discovering words, and also I am fascinated by poetic divination and other forms of seeking answers or guidance using books, dictionaries, and words. I often take a big dictionary and close my eyes and flip through, pointing to a page and opening my eyes to discover what it says. In fact, that’s how I found the word keraunoscopy — just like Rene 🙂
We loved Ms. Ziller! Does she appear in the novel again?
OMG, I love Ms. Ziller as well. Yes, she returns and becomes very important in the story as the kids fight a demonic force.
Since The Honey POP writes about music as well, we have to ask! Will we see mentions of other artists in the book as well, apart from Pink Floyd?
I love this question. There are a lot of references to 80s music in the book — both good and not-so-good. In the future, one of Jayde’s role models, the Contessa, is a pop star, and I fantasize what her music may sound like — I imagine it being a bit like Megan Thee Stallion, maybe 🙂
Even though Another Dimension of Us is a sci-fi book, it features queer characters, and part of it is based in 1986. In light of this, do we get insights into queer history as well?
Yes, for sure. I really drew upon my own experiences in the 80s growing up queer, contending with the specter of AIDS and homophobia rampant in the country. It was such a traumatic, difficult time to grow up gay, and I still marvel that I survived — something I credit in large part to LGBTQ activists and community organizers that were older than me and to the galvanizing experience of joining the movement (Queer Nation, ActUp) in the late 80s and 90s. There’s so much to say about that time, and I just scratch the surface in this book.
Can you tell us one thing you learned while writing and publishing the book? It can be anything. We are curious!
I have a friend, Scott Clover, who is an intuitive healer and who has experienced astral projection and taught me a great deal about energy patterns and projections. I also read other books on the subject, including the ones by Erin Pavlina, whose extraordinary writing on the subject was immensely helpful. I learned that we don’t really ‘speed’ through the astral plain but rather float, and that our astral body is tethered to our earth body by way of a milky wisp emanating from our navel.
If you describe in one word what you wish your readers to feel when they read this book, what would it be?
Thank you so much for your time! The last question we have for you is, do you have any other projects in the works that readers can look forward to after finishing Another Dimension of Us?
Yes! I have a science fiction novel that has been written and will hopefully find a home sometime soon! It’s called Touch Anywhere to Begin, and it’s about a young woman searching for love in a meta verse that looks like a perverse, sometimes dangerous version of our consumer-soaked culture.
We loved talking to Mike Albo about Another Dimension Of Us, which comes out January 17th and is available for pre-order here!
Have you pre-ordered your copies yet? What part or character from Another Dimension Of Us are you most excited to read about? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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