A little over ten years ago, Neal Stephenson teased a new series of historical fiction in an interview with the BBC:

Stephenson says he has returned to the past to tap a “similar vein” to that covered in his globe-spanning Baroque Cycle.

“They’re historical novels that have a lot to do with scientific and technological themes and how those interact with the characters and civilisation during a particular span of history,” he says of the new series, refusing to be specific about the exact period.

“It looks like it will start with two back-to-back volumes.

“One of those is largely done and the other will be done early next winter. So I think [they will be released] mid-to-late 2014 perhaps – something like that.”

Not long after, listings for something called Polostan and BombLight started showing up in various places that dorks scour to find new books, but the descriptions associated with those listings seemed to indicate that they were just working titles for Seveneves, which would be released in 2015 (the BombLight listing on Goodreads still has that old Seveneves plot description…)

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. would come out in 2017 and featured some time travelly historical fiction and appeared to be first in a series (his co-author did continue the series, and I’d definitely be up for a third, but I digress…) I thought maybe the historical novels he mentioned were either sidelined permanently, or perhaps they had morphed into the D.O.D.O. books.

However! A couple months ago, some of those placeholder Polostan pages started to be updated with actual details, and now there’s even an official Harper Collins page, complete with a new plot description:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Termination Shock and Cryptonomicon, the first installment in a monumental new trilogy—an expansive historical epic of intrigue and international espionage, presaging the dawn of the Atomic Age.

The first installment in Neal Stephenson’s Bomb Light cycle, Polostan follows the early life of the enigmatic Dawn Rae Bjornberg. Born in the American West to a clan of cowboy anarchists, Dawn is raised in Leningrad after the Russian Revolution by her Russian father, a party line Leninist who re-christens her Aurora. She spends her early years in Russia but then grows up as a teenager in Montana, before being drawn into gunrunning and revolution in the streets of Washington, D.C., during the depths of the Great Depression. When a surprising revelation about her past puts her in the crosshairs of U.S. authorities, Dawn returns to Russia, where she is groomed as a spy by the organization that later becomes the KGB.

Set against the turbulent decades of the early twentieth century, Polostan is an inventive, richly detailed, and deeply entertaining historical epic, and the start of a captivating new series from Neal Stephenson.

Well that’s certainly interesting… Funnily enough, the plot doesn’t mention any particular scientific or technological themes (I guess “dawn of the Atomic Age” is something), so it’s quite possible this is just a new historical fiction series, but who knows? Also: who cares? I guess goobers like me, but whatever the case, we’re getting some new Stephenson soon. The Russia angle feels relevant without being too on the nose, and I’m guessing this will be more of a spy thriller type of historical fiction, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Current release date is October 15, 2024, which is right in line with Stephenson’s normal cadence of new books every 3-4 years. No book cover yet, and who knows, maybe they’ll further complicate matters by changing the title. (Hat tip to Kaedrin friend and fellow Stephenson fan ARNE for the pointer…)

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