Writers of speculative fiction often posit alternate versions of familiar cities — London, New York and Los Angeles are seemingly the most popular. Perhaps it takes a St. Louisan to recognize St. Louis' potential as a narrative setting, as Sharon Shinn has done with her new young adult novel, Gateway. Daiyu is a Chinese girl adopted by an American family and raised in St. Louis. As a teenager she acquires a mysterious ring, which she is wearing when she walks under the Arch. She emerges on the other side in an alternate city similar to St. Louis, but if St. Louis were a nineteenth-century Chinese city. Daiyu is quickly embroiled in a game of intrigue, working as a spy to overthrow the ruling class. She also has to find time to be with Kalen, a handsome co-conspirator who will help her return to the real St. Louis when the mission is over — but does she want to leave him? Shinn reads from and signs copies of Gateway at 6 p.m. tonight at the Buder branch of the St. Louis Public Library (4401 South Hampton Avenue; 314-862-6100 or www.subbooks.com). Admission is free, and books will be sold through Subterranean Books at the reading.
Wed., Dec. 9, 2009