Published in fall 2019, Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day is set in a near-future where public gatherings have been radically limited by a global pandemic and threats of violence. Reading the book in 2020—which I did shortly after learning it had won this year’s Nebula Award—raises questions about the author’s psychic abilities.
But there’s much more to recommend the novel than just its eerie prescience. The story follows the hilariously named Rosemary Laws through a series of musical speakeasies, illegal under the political regime, as she scouts new acts on behalf of her corporate virtual reality employer. But an encounter with the equally hilariously named underground rock star Luce Cannon forces her to question the rules and regulations that have driven music—and so much else that makes life worth living—underground.