A sentient, bankrupt ship expert in tea brewing, and with a dark past, is enticed into action by a prickly detective.
I first came across Ms. de Bodard at a convention. I’d come to hear a friend read from her book, and as I recall I was early and Ms. de Bodard was reading from (or from something related to) The House of Shattered Wings, the book that first gained her attention. I liked some of her writing, but wasn’t really taken with the world she’d built. So, when the opportunity arose to read a book set in a different world, I took it.
Sadly, this time neither world nor writing appealed to me. The setting and concept are too vague to work with – something to do with sentient ships, bots that do something unspecified, and deep spaces that are somehow unreal – and the whole effort comes across more as an excerpt than a standalone story. It’s set in an existing world (the Universe of Xuya) and it shows. For those of us who haven’t read the other books in the series, this is a confusing muddle.
I also found the characters to be fairly stock players, and they didn’t draw my interest, though they did try. The writing is competent, but at times irritating – as when a detective – a master of deduction – insists on ‘deducting’ (as opposed to deducing).
In the end, I simply couldn’t get on board. This felt like a bonus produced for existing fans, rather than a taster and enticement to win new ones. It simply doesn’t work on its own.
23 April 2019 Science fiction | Aliette de Bodard | The Universe of Xuya |