Book Club

6 takeaways from Book Club’s ‘A Fractured Infinity’ author discussion

"How can I tell an emotional story with this...sci-fi candy coating wrapped around it?"

Nathan Tavares’ new book, “A Fractured Infinity,” is a queer, multiverse, love story that takes readers on a journey through utopias, dystopias, and everything in between. But at the end of each journey, the story always comes back to the love story between the main characters Hayes Figueiredo and Yusuf Hassan. For debut author Tavares, that love story is what drives the action of his sci-fi adventure forward. 

“How wonderfully lucky are two people…if they fall in love, and if they meet? Instead of fate, luck is something far more beautiful and precious than any sort of pre-destiny would be,” Tavares said. 


Tavares finished “A Fractured Infinity” in 2021 and has been hands-off on editing and proofreading since April of last year. Now that the book is out, he said he feels like he’s getting reacquainted with a loved one. 

“It’s like someone that you love very much just in your orbit still and it’s just been really lovely,” he said. “Reader feedback has been really lovely, too. A couple of people have reached out and just said thank you and that’s such a wonderful thing.”

As a devotee to science fiction, Tavares rarely encountered queer stories in the genre and feels proud to add to the canon. His cast of characters includes queer couples, people of color, an AI best friend and robots rights advocate, and more. 

“You literally have the universe available to you, so you need to include everyone who is in this world now in that universe.” recently hosted a discussion with Tavares and Alex Schaffner, events director at Brookline Booksmith, about his debut novel. They talked about imagining alternate histories and futures, crafting a dynamic story, and the future of robot rights. 

Read on for takeaways from their discussion, including a video recording of the discussion below, and sign up for more Book Club updates.

Tavares was inspired by ‘cerebral sci-fi’ movies.

The book’s protagonist, Hayes, doesn’t have a scientific background but is thrown into the world of physics and technology. Tavares, who describes himself as a science fiction lover, said he had a lot of fun playing with different elements of the genre. His favorite films are “Contact” and “Arrival,” two films about scientists who are chosen to make first contact with alien life. His book doesn’t follow the exact same tropes, but he tried to hit similar emotional notes. 


“It was less like what technology tropes could I fit in and more like, how can I tell an emotional story with this…sci-fi candy coating wrapped around it?” 

The heart of the book is a love story.

In every universe of this story Hayes, or a version of him, meets and falls in love with Yusuf, the physicist at the center of the story’s conflict. Tavares said he wanted his book to be a relationship story above all else and one that does justice to the specifics of falling in love as a gay man in his 30s and 40s. 

“It was important to show a realistic love growing,” he said. “I grew up not seeing any queer representation almost anywhere and like I said, I just love sci-fi film so much, so to me writing this book was almost a way of what would I have wanted to read when I was growing up.” 

Writing a multiverse story allowed him to explore alternatives to American history.

Early on in the writing process, Tavares had a conversation with a fellow writer about the difficulty of world-building in a new story. He decided to create multiple universes as a way to challenge himself and “rip the door off the hinges.” The multiverse concept eventually became a way for him to imagine different utopias, including one where Native Americans have their own nation in North America. 


“A lot of it was like wish fulfillment,” he said. “What if you take certain things in our history that we did wrong or didn’t get quite right and imagine it in a really different and positive way? That was fun.”

Tavares imagines Massachusetts taking the lead on equal rights for artificial intelligence.

One of the book’s lead characters is an AI named Genesis who’s best friends with the protagonist. In his book, Tavares imagines that Massachusetts would pass laws to protect sentient AI because of the state’s record on human rights, particularly being the first state to pass marriage equality. 

“It’s such a point of pride for me that Boston was the first state in the nation to pass marriage equality,” he said. “If Boston is this beacon of human rights in America, the next step for me logically is if we create AI, there has to be some law that grants them human rights because, at some point, they’re going to be indistinguishable from humans as far as emotional capacity…It became such a clear line of Boston is about freedom and you have this character who is an AI and she is a crusader for rights that seem really important to have.”

The novel plays with style and elements of craft.

One of the first things Schaffner said she noticed about the book was the strong voice. The book is told from the point of view of Hayes, who works as a documentary filmmaker. Tavares said he tried to imbue the narration and dialogue with Hayes’s sarcasm, self-deprecation, and humor to give the reader a real sense of his character. 


One of the challenges of writing science fiction is world-building without bogging the reader down with too much information. Tavares tried to skirt this issue by writing some sections of the novel as a screenplay rather than traditional prose as a “funny wink to the reader and a funny way to use Hayes’s documentary filmmaking knowledge.”

“What if we just ripped the fourth wall away and ripped the fifth wall away and…here’s a chunk of text in a book that says voiceover and I’m going to give you the dump of information you would need as if you were in a movie theater watching this?” 

His publisher gave him the space to “go weird.”

Tavares credits his editor, George Sandison, and his indie publisher Titan Books pushing him to go further out of the box than he thought he could. The end of the book went to darker places than he had initially planned, but with the encouragement of the team at Titan, Tavares said he landed in a place he feels happy with. 

“It got more experimental than I think I saw. I love my indie publisher, Titan, they’re amazing…I would say they let me go weird when a lot of other people I don’t think would have said that.”

Join our next virtual Book Club discussion

Join our next virtual author discussion with Laura Zigman and The Silver Unicorn Bookstore’s Megan Birch-McMichael on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m.


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