*Chosen as an Indies Introduce pick*
"Us Conductors is an impressive debut, a novel as somber and haunting as the voice of the theremin itself."
—Friends of Atticus
"Both the voice and the stories it tells transcend the dusty contrivances of much historical fiction, resulting in a novel that feels both fresh and timeless."
—Kirkus Starred Review
"Us Conductors stretches its arms to encompass nearly everything— it is an immigrant tale, an epic, a spy intrigue, a prison confession, an inventor's manual, a creation myth, and an obituary—but the electric current humming through its heart is an achingly resonant love story. Sean Michaels orchestrates his first novel like a virtuoso."
—Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
“A fascinating novel! Told with grace and confidence, and in a finely wrought voice, Us Conductors kept surprising me to the end. I was swept from the speakeasies and artistic fervor of 1930s Manhattan to bleak, secretive Soviet Union prisons, and never once was the illusion shattered. Throughout the story, the themes of love and music sing like the pure, ethereal notes of the theremin.”
—Eowyn Ivey, author of the New York Times bestseller The Snow Child
“DZEEEEOOOoo! Just as hard as it is to make a theremin sing so it is hard to pull off a novel like this. But Sean Michaels does it. Us Conductors bridges body and soul, science and art, and like theremin music, it’s of this world and magical at the same time.”
—Ismet Prcic, author of Shards
“I’ve been awaiting a book by Sean Michaels for a decade, ever since he helped create not only the online MP3 blog but his own form of criticism—imaginative, bird-like devices of prose that soar in and out of the paths of songs. In his novel, Us Conductors, Michaels finds his ideal subject in another inventor, the enigmatic Leon Termen, who with softly lit-up wisdom calls himself ‘a sound being sounded, music being made,’ amid the noise of history. Michaels’s voice will pass through you like live current and conduct you to parts unknown.”
—Carl Wilson, music critic for Slate.com and author of Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste
"Sean Michaels has chosen an engrossing subject in Lev Termen, the Russian scientist and spy, most famous for his invention of the unusual instrument, the theremin. Michaels details Termen's rise to fame, his trips around Europe and America to demonstrate his creation (bankrolled by the Russian government and not without its costs), as well as his new life in the States and subsequent incarceration in a Russian gulag following a shift in relations with his homeland. Us Conductors is engaging throughout. A fascinating look at a fascinating man."
—Liberty Hardy, RiverRun Bookstore
"Doctor Zhivago meets The Great Gatsby in this lyrical novel in which the charming and magnetic inventor of the theremin is torn between the poles of capitalism and communism."
—David Enyeart, Common Good Books
"Probably best known as founder of the influential music blog Said the Gramophone, Michaels’ debut novel fictionalizes the life of Lev Termen — scientist, spy and inventor of the theremin, an ethereal and eerie musical instrument."
"Hipsters and the tragically indie know Sean Michaels as the founder of music blog Said the Gramophone. In April, he’ll release his debut novel, Us Conductors, a fictionalization of the life of the inventor of the theremin. Yeah, I’m not sure either, but Michaels writes about music with care and attention, so I’m interested to see where this goes."
"Music blogger Sean Michaels has written a lushly imagined biography of the Soviet inventor of the theremin, one of the first electronic instruments."