In new pandemic novel, ‘Station Eleven’ author explores how the apocalypse is always now

Fans of Marvel movies love that the franchise encompasses a multiverse where well-known characters such as Captain America, Spiderman and Doctor Strange can shift identities and destinies depending on which storylines they inhabit. In her latest work, science fiction author Emily St. John Mandel — of “Station Eleven” (2014) fame — builds on a similar approach.

“The Sea of Tranquility” offers a multiverse in which characters from “The Glass Hotel” (2020) reappear and are given new storylines. Mandel did something similar in “The Glass Hotel” with Miranda and Leon from “Station Eleven,” the dystopian novel that was recently turned into a miniseries on HBO Max. “It’s just fun to create a multiverse,” Mandel said in a phone interview. “(My characters) feel like they’re part of some greater, overarching story.”

Spanning six centuries — from 1912 to 2401 — “The Sea of Tranquility” starts right before World War I and ends up at a human colony on the moon. When Mandel sat down to write the novel, it was the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. She was in lockdown in her apartment in New York with her husband and her daughter, and everywhere on Earth seemed too close.