Neil Young’s Sci-Fi Novel and His Hilarious Response About His Ongoing Project

The multi-talented folk rocker Neil Young’s sci-fi novel has been in the works since around 2017, and his commentary on the ongoing project is just what you’d expect from a musician who has made a career out of being unapologetically original and to the point. In addition to his novel, Young is also regularly releasing music and performing. 

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It’s a lot to keep up with—something even Young admitted to in a 2018 Rolling Stone interview. (But fear not, Young fans: he’s showing no signs of slowing down).

Neil Young’s Hilarious Description Of His Upcoming Sci-Fi Novel

Whether in his music, lyrics, or regular updates to the NYA Times-Contrarian, a pseudo-newspaper Young updates on his archival website, the “Heart of Gold” singer opts for a more direct form of communication. While Young is undoubtedly well-versed in metaphor, he doesn’t let his words over-complicate things. If he has a point, he’ll say it, which is precisely what he did when describing his novel, Canary.

“It’s a f***in’ mess,” Young admitted to Rolling Stone in 2018. “I have an agent in New York working with me on it right now. We’re just finishing it. It’s kind of a sci-fi thing about a guy who gets busted for a crime. He works for a power company, and there’s corruption in the power company, and he wants to expose it. So, he figures out a way to expose it and shuts down the grid a couple of times. He gets busted for doing that, and the cops come and take him out of his office, put him in a van, drug him, and he goes to a hospital somewhere. Then, he wakes up, and he’s on a mission to pay his debt to society. That’s all he cares about.” 

Young elaborates on the more dystopian aspects of Canary, including glasses that broadcast someone’s real-time perspective to an authoritative group miles away and a new energy system that involves developing new animal species. (In typical sci-fi fashion, the animals escape, of course.) “It’s a long story,” Young adds.

The Folk Rocker Has Offered Various Updates Over The Years

While Canary has yet to be published at the time of this writing, it’s clear that it’s not for lack of trying. Neil Young has updated his archival website several times over the years, including a June 2021 update where he announced he and his editor, Ed, (“No kidding,” Young quips in his blog post) had just submitted the first draft of Canary to the publishing company. Two years after that, the process was still rolling along.

In May 2023, Young shared a photo to his website of piles and piles of manuscripts scattered around the floor, penned and highlighted edits and revisions on full display. “We are moving well along with Canary,” Young wrote. “The book is a sci-fi story set in years forward. Canary has been in progress since 2017, and I have no idea what will happen when it comes out. Of course, not knowing is the best!”

We don’t know whether Young included that last bit as a motivational push for himself or as an outward salve for impatient fans, but we’ll gladly take the latter as we wait on pins and needles for Young’s novel. (F***in’ messes and all.)

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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