Announcing The Archive Undying, a Queer Novel About Giant Robots by Emma Mieko Candon

Tordotcom is thrilled to announce the acquisition of World English rights of The Archive Undying and an additional novel by debut author Emma Mieko Candon by Editor Carl Engle-Laird from Caitlin McDonald at Donald Maass Literary Agency.

The Archive Undying is an epic work of mecha sci-fi about Sunai, the immortal survivor of an Autonomous Intelligence that went mad and destroyed the city it watched over as a patron god. In the aftermath of the divine AI’s suicide, Sunai is on the run from those who would use him, either to resurrect what was lost or as the enslaved pilot of a gargantuan war machine made from his god’s corpse. Trouble catches up with Sunai when he falls into bed with Veyadi, a strange man who recruits him to investigate an undiscovered AI. Sunai draws ever closer to his cursed past, flirting with disaster and his handsome new boyfriend alike.

Emma Mieko Candon is a queer author who writes about devouring ghosts, cursed linguistics, and mediocre robots. Her upcoming novel, Star Wars Visions: Ronin, reimagines the Star Wars mythos through a Japanese lens. Editor by day, escaped academic by night, she is at all hours beholden to the whims of two lopsided cats and grateful for the support of an enviably handsome wife.

I began The Archive Undying while doped up on a radiant cocktail of medications shortly after becoming a cyborg. It is a book about mechs, which means it’s a book about bodies, and how sometimes your body/mech is trying to kill you, which isn’t very chill of it, but you just sort of have to figure out how to deal. In that way it’s also about surviving apocalypse—the moment everything you knew about yourself is explosively rewritten, and how you must learn to live thereafter. It also has tender queer face touching in it, because I love my wife, and she insists. I rewrote the whole thing about four times before Carl graciously welcomed my multi-limbed little behemoth into his care, which was thrilling for more than one reason. I’ve thought of Tordotcom as a “one day, maybe” sort of dream publisher ever since they entered the novel game; I admire their list, I adore their books, and I’m still pretty far over the moon to be joining the crew.

The editor, Carl Engle-Laird, said of the book:

I have been waiting for years to publish The Archive Undying, since long before I got the chance to read it. The mecha genre has fascinated me for decades, from Gundam Wing to Neon Genesis Evangelion to Pacific Rim. Not just because of the large, cool robots, but because of what they are made to represent: the outsized devastation humanity can wreak; the way we instrumentalize the innocent to perpetuate war; the fragility and resilience of the human body writ large. At the same time I’ve been on the hunt for a novel that could do for me what Nier: Automata did, using AI to deconstruct mind/body duality and truly overcome the physical limits of consciousness. Emma Mieko Candon delivers all that and more in her truly remarkable debut novel. She not only made the robots big, she made them sad, and she came up with some beautifully sad men to pilot them and kiss each other.

Agent Caitlin McDonald said of the book:

Every few years comes a book that asks you to reconsider a fundamental aspect of how you view the world—a book that changes a little bit of who you are. The Archive Undying is one of those works, and I could not be more honored to share in its journey. Emma’s mind is a brilliant delight, Carl is a pitch-perfect editorial match, and I am beyond excited to have found such a perfect home at Tordotcom for these works!

The Archive Undying will be available from Tordotcom Publishing in early 2023.


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