Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight

Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight

by Aliette De Bodard

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From a writer fast becoming one of the stars of the genre, Aliette de Bodard, multiple award winner and author of The Tea Master and the Detective, now brings readers fourteen dazzling tales that showcase the richly textured worldbuilding and beloved characters that have brought her so much acclaim.

In de Bodard's first collection come discover the breadth and endless invention of her universes, ranging from a dark Gothic Paris devastated by a magical war; to the multiple award-winning Xuya, a far-future space opera inspired by Vietnamese culture where scholars administrate planets and sentient spaceships are part of families.

In the Nebula award and Locus award winning "Immersion", a young girl working in a restaurant on a colonized space station crosses paths with an older woman who has cast off her own identity. In the novelette "Children of Thorns, Children of Water", a shapeshifting dragon infiltrating a ruined mansion finds more than he's bargained for when his partner is snatched by eerie, child-like creatures. And in the award-winning "Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight", three very different people—a scholar, an engineer, and a spaceship—all must deal with the loss of a woman who was the cornerstone of their world.   

This collection includes a never-before-seen 20,000-word novella, "Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness", set in Bodard's alternative dark Paris.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940160726045
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Publication date: 09/30/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 222,389
File size: 2 MB

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Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight is the first anthology of short fiction by French Vietnamese SciFi/Fantasy author, Aliette de Bodard, who is one of my favorite authors. This anthology is a pretty good representation of de Bodard's work, with many stories based in her Xuya universe, featuring themes of the impact of colonization, of the meanings and duties towards family, of memories and grief, the horrors of war, and more. The final two stories are novellettes, one old and one all new, based in the Dominion of the Fallen universe and are a lot more fun to close things out. Overall, you can't really do wrong with de Bodard's work, and this is a good example of why. For those new to de Bodard's work, you'll find a pretty good cross section of her interesting concepts here that are based in non-western cultures. For example, her Xuya universe features as regular concepts that of mindships, which are sentient ships whose minds are born inside human wombs, and are treated as long living family members of the families they are born into. The universe, being based in not Western but Vietnamese/Chinese cultures, also frequently features familial duty as a major theme, with characters referred to as "aunts" (by number or simply as "elder") or "cousins" respectfully and again, mindships are also referred to in these ways as part of such families. de Bodard uses these concepts to tell stories with a wide variety of themes, although for much of this collection, the impacts of colonization and of the inability of fighting back colonization to truly restore what once was is probably the biggest recurring theme - shown best by the stories "Memorials" and "The Waiting Stars". How others imposing their worldviews on others, particularly Westerners on those from Eastern cultures, makes a strong theme in perhaps the anthology's best story, "Immersion." And themes of grief from lost families, of lost cultures, and losses due to war are rampant throughout the collection, to very dark ends ("The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile" is a prime example.") I'm not summarizing any of these stories because to do so will lose their power, so I'm not even going to try. You should read them yourself. There are three stories that are kind of oddballs out. "The Jaguar House, in Shadow" is the only story in an Aztec-themed SF world (another type of setting de Bodard has written in), but is a very solid story with a twist on the stands and sacrifices one makes for ones people and friends. And then there's the two Dominion of the Fallen novellas, which are both far more fun than the rest of the collection. Which isn't to say there aren't themes of class and culture in these stories (especially Children of Thorns, Children of Water, which was a Hugo finalist a few years back and essentially a prequel to The House of Binding Thorns), but both are featuring more fun and enjoyable moments - I'm pretty sure the brand new story, Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness, featured de Bodard thinking of the worst thing she could do to one of her characters trying to plan a nice simple birthday party and going from there - that will leave you smiling in the end. Overall, a pretty great collection and good demonstration of why de Bodard is an author you should be reading, and who deserves a lot more mainstream attention.
MarziesReads 4 months ago
My introduction to Aliette de Bodard's work was initially her Nebula Award-winning Xuya Universe novella The Tea-Master and the Detective, a clever take on Sherlock Holmes and Watson, then her luminous novella, In the Vanishers' Palace, both gorgeous editions from SubPress. After finding so much to love, I snapped up the opportunity to read this first anthology of her shorter works (short story to novella length). Giving us stories set in the Xuya Universe, along with that of the Dominion of the Fallen world, the collection also includes de Bodard's award-winning 2012 story "Immersion," and a story that's been haunting me since I read it, "The Dust Queen." (What is an artist without her memories?) Some of the context of these stories, given in de Bodard's Introduction, is equally mesmerizing. A child of the Vietnam war, feeling alien in the environs in which she grew up, science fiction became a potent outlet for her, though still the lack of Asian characters, the poor roles for women, the lack of female friendships, all were, in fact, too similar to the world that de Bodard sought to escape. She has definitely remedied those defects in her marvelous stories, with rich female characters and Asian influences that are woven so deftly into the worlds she envisions. There are riches of the imagination here. This compilation was released in a gorgeous limited edition set of 1250 volumes from SubPress but those who cannot afford this can also get the 380 page eBook for $6. Don't miss it. (But have to admit... I just bought it in paper...) I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Subterranean Press in exchange for an honest review.