DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The author Philip Pullman, whose 1,200-page fantasy trilogy "His Dark Materials" has sold nearly 18 million copies around the world, announced last night that he is writing a new series. It'll be set in the same universe starring some of the same characters. The first new installment will arrive this fall. Now, we don't typically cover book announcements at NPR. But Pullman's legions of readers have been waiting for this next project for 17 years.
The project is called "The Book Of Dust," and NPR's Glen Weldon talked with Pullman about what to expect.
GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: For years, Philip Pullman fielded this question, how's the next book coming? And for years, he had a standard answer.
PHILIP PULLMAN: It is three pages longer today than it was yesterday.
WELDON: Now 17 years later, he's returning to that vast world and its characters, especially a plucky 11-year-old named Lyra. She's proven so popular with readers that Pullman has heard from fans who've named their daughters after her. In the first volume of the next trilogy, Lyra is still a baby. But don't call it a prequel.
PULLMAN: It's not a prequel, and it's not a sequel. It's an equal. And it's a sort of companion book, if you like. It doesn't stand before, it stands beside it.
WELDON: The original series covered a lot of ground - theology, particle physics, the loss of childhood innocence, plus there were polar bears that talked and wore armor. And there was Dust, capital D. It's hard to explain, but Dust was a mysterious substance that had something to do with the nature of humanity and sin.
PULLMAN: That's what I wanted to explore in this new work, really, more about the nature of Dust and consciousness and what it means to be a human being.
WELDON: He feels there's more to say about this world and its characters, including minor ones we might have overlooked.
PULLMAN: One of those in particular is a boy whom we will have seen before in one of the other books, but I'm not saying which one. And there he wasn't a boy, he was an adult.
WELDON: As you can tell, Pullman is cagey about the plot. But he did reveal one thing, one small thing.
PULLMAN: I'll also say there's a great flood involved.
WELDON: Which makes sense given Pullman's fondness for biblical imagery in this saga of biblical proportions. The first volume of "The Book Of Dust" will be published in October. Glen Weldon, NPR News.
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