only the astronauts cover

Adrift in outer space, a motley crew of human-made objects tell their tales,

making real history sweeter and stranger.


Starman, a lovelorn mannequin orbiting the Sun in his cherry-red car, pines for his creator. The first sculpture ever taken to the Moon is possessed by the spirit of Neil Armstrong. The International Space Station, awaiting deorbit and burial in a spacecraft cemetery beneath the ocean, farewells its last astronauts. A team of tamponauts sets off on a perilous mission to Mars inspired by the courage of their predecessors. The Voyager 1 space probe - carrying its precious Golden Record - is captured by Oortians near the edge of the solar system and drawn into their baroque, glimmering rituals.

By turns joyous and mournful, these object-astronauts are not high priests of the universe but something a little…weirder. From their inverted perspectives, they observe humans both intimately and from a great distance, bearing witness to a civilisation unable to live up to its own ideals. And yet each still finds in our planet – in their humans – something worthy of love.

Published by Penguin Random House, May 2024

If you’re interested in learning more about the ideas behind these stories, you can read Ceridwen’s essays “Telling Stories From The Perspectives Of Objects” (Sydney Review of Books, February 2023) and “Writing the Inner Lives of Space Objects” (Kill Your Darlings, November 2022).


"[Dovey] is a writer of preternatural intelligence and imagination, and here she deftly marries the playful and the profound...readers will fall under the spell of her voices, and have the sense, on finishing, of having ventured into a place of unusual and unearthly beauty."

– Adele Dumont, The Guardian

“Dovey is simply one of the most elegant and intellectually bracing prose writers we have.”

– Geordie Williamson, The Australia

"You can trust Ceridwen Dovey for scientific accuracy, as you marvel at the manner in which she weaves ancient legends, history and human nature into a fabric of storytelling that can move you to laughter, tears, and fear of the future, while somehow juggling in the mix a grandeur that provides a mysterious form of hope."

– Carmel Bird, The Sydney Morning Herald

"Dovey’s Only the Astronauts is an aching and profound book. The moments of farce and pathos highlight the vanity of space, where billionaires and superpowers go to flex. In the background there is Earth, which seems a perfectly good planet. Dovey’s book suggests that, no matter how far we fly, we never really leave it, or the mortal determinations that make life meaningful."

– Tony Hughes-d'Aeth, The Conversation

"Rare, wild genius. The stories in Only the Astronauts are extraordinary, funny, delightful and moving. Dovey sees tenderly what it is to be human – from a perspective that is out-of-this world imaginative."

- Anna Funder, author of Wifedom

"An intergalactic tour de force. Dovey breathes life into the cold and forgotten parts of the space program, until we are floating up there with space junk, saturated in the beauty, heartbreak and hilarity that Only the Astronauts allows us to see. Anyone who has ever looked up at the stars and wondered will adore this."

- Laura Jean McKay, author of The Animals in That Country & Gunflower