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Fiction Literary

Rockets Versus Gravity

by (author) Richard Scarsbrook

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2016
Literary, Sagas, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price

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A National Post Bestseller!
A multi-faceted story that explores how small actions and changes can give rise to startling and unintended consequences.

Trajectory. Declination. Impact. Escape Velocity. These are rocketry terms that could also describe aspects of the human experience.

A lumberjack obsessed with space travel loses four different wedding rings, and each of the lost rings symbolizes something different to the person who finds it.

There are the members of a rich family whose dramas overlap with those of the homeless people living right next door, under the bridges of the Rosedale Ravine. The wheelchair-bound teen who declares war on a man parking his luxury car in the handicapped parking spot. The would-be rock star selling insurance, whose terminal diagnosis sets his life on a new and dizzying path.

And many others. Every person is connected to every other — genetically, coincidentally, necessarily, or randomly. Every action has a consequence, seen or unseen, from the sublime to the catastrophic.

About the author

Richard Scarsbrook grew up in the tiny rural community of Olinda, Ontario. He lived and taught in Petrolla for nearly a decade, where he acted, directed, and served as a member of the board of directors for the community theatre. In Petrolia, he also wrote original songs, and played the drums and sang in a band called The Know. He also began publishing his first short stories and poems at this time. Scarsbrook now makes his home in Toronto where he teaches creative writing courses at Humber Colege and George Brown College. He also plays and sings in the rock bands The Featherless Bipeds, The Nerve, and Disorderly Conduct, and has performed in venues such as The Rivoli, The Guverment, Healey's Roadhouse, The Opera House, The Tattoo Rock Parlour, The Royal York Hotel, The Hard Rock Cafe and The Black Swan (all in Toronto), The Hard Rock Cafe and The Liquor Store Bar in Ottawa, and The Just For Laughs Studio in Montreal. Scarsbrook's fiction and poetry have appeared in journals and Magazines in Canada and internationally including The Guardian Unlimited (UK), The FISH Anthology (Ireland), Verbicide (US), Prairie Fire, Descant, Matrix, Carousel, The Dalhousie Review, PRECIPICe, Rampike, Storyteller, The New Orphic Review, The Nashwaak Review, The Harpweaver, The Backwater Review, NeWest Review, Lies With Occasional Truth, The Moose and Pussy, Jones Avenue, Surface and Symbol, and Zygote. His stories and poems have won praise and prizes including the 1998 Hinterland Award for Prose, the 2001 New Orphic Short Story Prize, the 2001 Scarborough Arts Council Poetry Prize, the 2002 Lawrence House Centre for the Arts Short Story Prize, and the 2009 Matrix LitPop Award for Fiction. His first book publication was Guessing at Madeleine, a collection of poems which won the 1996 Cranberry Tree Press Poetry Prize. Scarsbrook's first novel, Cheeseburger Subversive (Thistledown Press), 2003) received positive reviews and great reader response.  Renowned author W.P. Kinsella (Shoeless Joe, Dance Me Outside), wrote this in Books in Canada: "Cheeseburger Subversive is a coming of age story written with humour and panache. Scarsbrook has a special eye for the absurd, a wonderful way of looking at the world that turns tragedy into humor. A very funny and heart-warming debut." Cheeseburger Subversive was short listed for The Canadian Library Association's 2004 Young Adult Book of the Year Award, The Ontario Library Association's 2005 White Pine Award, and the 2005 Stellar Book Award. Featherless Bipeds ( Thistledown ,2006), its sequel, was also short-listed for short listed for the Canadian Library Association's 2007 Young Adult Book of the Year Award, and listed for the 2008/2009 Stellar Book Award.  Storyteller: Canada's Short Story Magazine wrote: "Featherless Bipeds remains at all times as tightly focused as the best short stories...Fans of live pop music will enjoy Scarsbrook's wonderful evocations of the characters, venues, trials, and successes of such a career, as well as the experience of making music, both onstage and off. " Scarsbrook's latest novel The Monkeyface Chronicles won the 2011 Ontario Library Association's White Pine Award. CM Magazine called the book a "multi-layered, engrossing, complex tale", and Resource Links said "Scarsbrook is an excellent writer with great comic overtones".  A review by author Ann Ewan (Firedrake, Brondings' Honour) said of The Monkeyface Chronicles, "It reminds me of the books of Paul Quarrington and John Irving, creating an over-the-top yet close-to-real world." 

Richard Scarsbrook's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Scarsbrook provides readers with a mosaic—a series of narratives that straddle the line between a full-fledged novel and a collection of interlocking short stories. Embracing ideas of synchronicity and chaos theory, Scarsbrook jumps around in time and place


Expertly weaves these seemingly unrelated characters into one larger story — a technique reminiscent of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad. Scarsbrook portrays these characters so vividly that the reader cannot help but empathize with them.

Novella Magazine

what I loved most about this book was how it all came together, how all the characters were connected in some way, which, as I see all the time, isn’t that unrealistic.

Book Time

Rockets Versus Gravity was a good read, it took me less than a day to read it because I was so curious to see where it was going to go. I loved getting to read a book set in Toronto and small-towns much like my own

Broken Pencil

Creates its own small universe of hope, frustration, love, lust, tragedy, and comedy. Each chapter adds to a quirky wholeness, forming a haunting pattern evocative of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.

ForeWord Reviews

Such a fun ride … Each story weaves from one to another and it is fun putting them all together.

Coffee and Books

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