Here in order below are a Short Summary; Longer Summary; Short Author Bio, Longer Author Bio, and Pre-publication Review

Short Summary, The Last Shade Tree

Sequoyah Morgan Hummingbird is different, living on the edge of reality where sharing thoughts is as natural as breathing. But he hates everything about himself—his name, his lost childhood in a Cherokee residential school, his tongue-tied shyness. Even worse, the Moon People, an octogenarian pair orbiting high above the 1960s earth, force him to comply with their ruthless repopulation scheme—because they alone have seen WW III destroy humankind. By age twenty Sequoyah hits rock bottom. He pulls through, helped by friends and strangers drawn to the poetry and goodness within him. Stumbling as often as they prevail, Sequoyah and his new clan make love, babies, and history as they jump across continents and millennia. The Moon People’s lunatic plotting succeeds, landing the clan in the far future after the ruined earth has rebounded. They face surprisingly fearsome adversaries, leaving the clan’s survival in doubt.

As Sequoyah himself says, “Who can understand the power of love?” Surviving epic adventures, the clan mostly succeeds in preserving that fragile but enduring emotion during their own dark present, a nightmarish past, and an uncertain future.

 

Longer Summary, The Last Shade Tree

Sequoyah Morgan Hummingbird is different, living on the edge of reality where sharing thoughts is as natural as breathing. But he hates everything about himself—his name, his lost childhood in a Cherokee residential school, his tongue-tied shyness. Even worse, the Moon People, an octogenarian pair orbiting high above the 1960s earth, force him to comply with their ruthless repopulation scheme—because they alone have seen WW III destroy humankind. By age twenty Sequoyah hits rock bottom. He pulls through, helped by friends and strangers drawn to the poetry and goodness within him. Stumbling as often as they prevail, Sequoyah and his new clan make love, babies, and history as they jump across continents and millennia. The Moon People’s lunatic plotting succeeds, landing the clan in the far future after the ruined earth has rebounded. They face surprisingly fearsome adversaries, leaving the clan’s survival in doubt.

Serious questions about war and racism lie beneath the surface of this thought-provoking story, written with humor, satire, sensuality, and pathos. The day-to-day action occurs on several fronts simultaneously—from Oklahoma and California to Slovakia, Montreal, and the Arctic. When the principal characters travel back in Time, they are plunged into some of history’s most heinous deportations: of the Japanese after Pearl Harbor, the Jews on their way to Auschwitz, and the Cherokee on the 1838 Trail of Tears.

As Sequoyah himself says, “Who can understand the power of love?” Surviving epic adventures, the clan mostly succeeds in preserving that fragile but enduring emotion during their own dark present, a nightmarish past, and an uncertain future.

 

Full Synopsis, The Last Shade Tree. Full synopsis available on request through the Contact page (contains Spoiler)

 

Author Bio, Short

Margaret Panofsky grew up surrounded by Northern California’s live oak trees and golden wild-oat grass, but abandoned what’s left of that idyllic beauty to live in New York City. She is a musician who plays the viola da gamba and is founder and director of New York University’s The Teares of the Muses, a consort of viols. After years of playing Renaissance and Baroque music, she believes that her first novel has a definite musical lilt.

 

Author Bio, Long

Margaret Panofsky grew up in Los Altos, California, surrounded by live oak trees and golden wild-oat grass. Her young life always revolved around one art or another; she prepared for a career in ballet with music and art on the side—but music won out. The first book she remembers falling in love with was James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks with its enticingly morbid backdrops, inscrutable humans, and sonorous rhythm. But soon it met serious competition from other favorites: Crime and PunishmentWuthering Heights, Karel Čapek’s War with the Newts, or any tragedy by Shakespeare.

And it was the allure of Shakespeare’s world that pushed her over the edge. She attended Stanford and the New England Conservatory of Music to prepare for a career in “early music”—classical music that features repertory from Shakespeare’s time through Louis XIV’s. She plays the viola da gamba, a six-stringed bowed instrument that had its day in the castles and courts of Europe. Margaret is a professor at New York University’s Arts and Science Music Department where she teaches the viola da gamba. She founded and directs The Teares of the Muses, a consort of viols. The group is proud to have made two very original sounding CDs. She has published three books, all tied to the early music field.

Margaret lives with her husband in New York City. When the constant excitement becomes overbearing, she reminisces about Northern California or make rare escapes to hike, or soak up culture elsewhere. Every once in a while she takes a ballet class. Nothing delights this mother’s heart more than visits with her two grown children. She is currently writing a sequel to The Last Shade Tree.

Even now, Margaret’s parents continue to shape her world. Her late father, Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky, nuclear physicist and a tireless advocate for arms control, has certainly influenced her thinking in The Last Shade Tree, just as her mother, lover of the immense and the minuscule in nature, has left a permanent mark. At ninety-three, Adele Irene Panofsky (nee DuMond) still lives in the house surrounded by golden wild-oat grass where Margaret grew up.

Margaret has watched the world lurch from bad to worse to bad and back again—more times than she can count. Right now is a definite “worse” period that makes Margaret fear for humankind’s future. Letting her book characters speak for her, she voices dismay that human beings seem incapable of learning from past atrocities. Margaret hopes that The Last Shade Tree will make a dent in people’s amnesia. Since researching Shade Tree, she has become an outspoken supporter of ICWA, the Indian Child Welfare Act, the 1978 federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with their families, tribes, and nations.

 

Pre-publication Review

The pre-publication review of the The Last Shade Tree’s manuscript is written by Alex McIe, a voracious and knowledgeable reader of a wide variety of science fiction and fantasy. She is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at New York University.  

The Last Shade Tree, Panofsky’s tremendous first novel, takes readers on an enlightening journey across time and around the world alongside protagonist Sequoyah Morgan Hummingbird, a withdrawn yet emotionally and expressively gifted Cherokee man shaped by the heart-wrenching trauma of his early life. Sequoyah fights to come into his own despite both his hardships and the ever-present burden that he faces as a chosen specimen in the enigmatic Moon People’s dictatorial master plan. Sequoyah’s journey is influenced and guided by friends, family, enemies, lovers, and by his unique insight into the ominous future that awaits a dangerously heedless humanity. 

Reading The Last Shade Tree is a compelling, enjoyable, and deeply thought-provoking experience. This book provides everything I could want as a reader and enthusiast of science fiction; time travel, complex mythology, witty satire, apocalyptic scenarios, and an engaging cast of characters. With vivid descriptive prose and engaging dialogue, Panofsky treats her readers to a novel infused with romance and adventure, at times humorous, and often deeply serious. From cover to cover, the plot is fast-paced and exciting, which Panofsky achieves without ever neglecting the attention to detail that animates both her characters and their vividly atmospheric surroundings. The range and complexity of characters serves to explore the many facets of the human condition, where each character displays a believable array of strengths and imperfections, and each grows and transforms as they face the consequences of good, bad, and sometimes unthinkable experiences. 

In today’s volatile world, The Last Shade Tree emerges as a crucial reminder that many of our predecessors’ transgressions still go overlooked or are underplayed within contemporary society. A history forgotten is doomed to be repeated, and I encourage readers to explore the very real history behind many of the events in The Last Shade Tree that have been so meticulously considered and researched for the purpose of this edifying novel. The book’s website lastshadetree.com provides a welcome introduction to readers seeking to discern fact from fiction. My initial reading of this book was undertaken in conjunction with this auxiliary material, and as a result, my greater awareness of and deeper sense of empathy for several of the book’s historical events has for me been one of the foremost successes of this book. Panofsky’s respectful and informed presentation of multicultural characters further serves this apparent objective, and should not go under-appreciated. 

As an avid lover of science fiction works both old and new, I appreciated this book's resemblance in content and tone to the mid-20th century era of the genre. I would particularly recommend The Last Shade Tree to all with an interest in the science fiction genre and to anyone attracted by history, culture, and reflections on the human condition. However, the profound narrative, expressive writing, and wholly original concept are sure to intrigue and please a vast audience. 

Review by Alex McIe: June 10 2016