“No Good Chickens” – The Best Moment From ‘Sea of Tranquility’ By Emily St. John Mandel

I’ve decided to get into those books I got for Christmas and was immediately drawn to Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. I absolutely adored her non-linear pre and post apocalyptic novel Station Eleven so I was excited to get into a new work of hers.

Sea of Tranquility is a science fiction novel set across multiple time periods. The novel is split into parts, each part telling one character’s POV and their story. One of these is about an author on book tour while a pandemic breaks out around her. As I was reading, this particular passage stuck out to me:

“You know the phrase I keep thinking about?” a poet asked, on a different panel, at a festival in Copenhagen. “‘The chickens are coming home to roost.’ Because it’s never good chickens. It’s never ‘You’ve been a good person and now your chickens are coming home to roost.’ It’s never good chickens. It’s always bad chickens.”

Scattered laughter and applause. A man in the audience was having a coughing fit. He left quickly, bent over in an apologetic way. Olive wrote ‘no good chickens’ in the margin of her festival program.

The Sea Of Tranquality, page 95.

I love this for two reasons. 1) It’s absolutely true, and 2) the part following this is, of course, titled ‘Bad Chickens.’ Oh boy, I do love me some darkly funny foreshadowing. Also that man in the audience definitely died, I’m calling it.

No good chickens, indeed.


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