Mar. 27th, 2018

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[personal profile] renay
Sherlock Holmes.

Gender-swapped.

Except set in a far-future society where traumatized sentient spaceships can be down on their luck brewers of SPACE TEA that helps humans function in deep space.

I was sold immediately and I assume many others would be, as well, so I am here to spread the gospel of Aliette de Bodard's latest story in her Xuya universe.

Featuring: aforementioned sentient spaceship, The Shadow's Child. Also Long Chau, a caustic customer on the search for a tea that will help her on a job. The job quickly turns into a murder case and The Shadow's Child is tugged into Long Chau's adventures—and a hunt for her mysterious and troubling past.

Subterranean Press did a gorgeous hardcover edition, but there's also an ebook edition that's more reasonable for those of us who aren't collectors and can't drop $40 on a novella (even though we might want to, sob). There will be editions for the rest of the world, too, I have read! Don't worry, eventually everyone should be able to get on this excellent ship that is Xuya and read this super neat novella.

Because this is a novella, to talk too much about the plot is to spoil the experience of the characters and their circumstances. If you've read any Xuya stories, you'll be fine. If you haven't, there are some recs here, as well as some background on the world. Unlike a novel series that gives you all the background, the Xuya universe is built on unrelated but connected short pieces that assume the Chinese found the Americas first. It's alternate future made by creating an alternate history framework and it's fascinating and lovely. I also don't think entering the universe here is a bad choice; it's self-contained and not too hard to follow if you read it as a standalone piece.

(If you're like me, you will not treat it as a standalone piece for long, because you will swallow all other Xuya stories ASAP.)

The Shadow's Child carries us through the story on her perspective as Long Chau turns her whole life upside down. It definitely feels like a Sherlock Holmes remix, but in the best way that deepens the characters in thoughtful ways without an over-reliance of inspiration material. This feels like an Aliette de Bodard story even with the added element of being a remix. Plus, as much as the plot-related mystery is intriguing, more so is the mystery of how these two individuals will resolve their differences to come together as allies. It's an excellent character piece.

If you want a great story about two very different people—a curt SPACE DETECTIVE and a traumatized SPACESHIP—working together and coming to trust each other despite their pasts and personalities, I highly recommend this novella (and the Xuya universe as a whole, as well).

I give this 14 cups of (in this case, delicious and not mind-altering) space tea.

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