Another anthology i picked up along the way.
The Blue Afternoon that Lasted Forever — Daniel H. Wilson
Thunderwell — Doug Beason
The Circle — Liu Cixin (translated by Ken Liu)
Old Timer’s Game — Ben Bova
The Snows of Yesteryear — Jean-Louis Trudel
Skin Deep — Leah Petersen & Gabrielle Harbowy
Lady with Fox — Gregory Benford
Habilis — Howard Hendrix
The Play’s the Thing — Jack McDevitt
Every Hill Ends with Sky — Robert Reed
She Just Looks that Way — Eric Choi
“SIREN of Titan — David DeGraff
The Yoke of Inauspicious Stars — Kate Story
Ambiguous Nature — Carl Frederick
The Mandelbrot Bet — Dirk Strasser
Recollection — Nancy Fulda
Currently available to read at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
This is the last of “The Universe of Xuya” stories currently listed on Aliette’s website, where it’s mentioned as being “… in a completely different corner of space”. And yes, it most certainly is.
It’s got some sci-fi-ish things going on but at the same time it has beings carved out of rock that are breathed life into by their breath sisters who are then needed to breath life into their breath sister’s new born babies else they’re still born. So in a lot of ways it feels far more of a fantasy story than a sci-fi one. It’s certainly a very different thing to the rest of the Xuya stories, but it’s really quite enjoyable and i would give it the award of the most stand alone story in the Xuya universe. If you are just wanting to grab a quick read without needing any background stuff then this would be it.
And that, as they say, is that: all current Xuya stories read apart from one.
Free to read at Google books.
This story is a bit both ways for me. The good bit is that i sort of get my wish from Memorials in that this is about beings like perpetuates in some sort of V-Space, but the bad bit is that it gets rather random.
While i’m happy to let my imagination fill in things where needed this story leaves a few too many blanks to fill in. To begin, it doesn’t explain how someone is actually taken into this Repository, we just have Giao going out of her door and meeting an oily, inky blackness; which she realises is the Repository. Next thing, Giao is waking up in the Repository as some kind of perpetuate being and meeting her sister, a perpetuate who has been there 3 years. Then she encounters the Rescue Party who help her to try to get out, which, no one has ever done.
And then the ending: what Giao gets to realise about the Repository and how the story ends just skips over so much. Like Aliette didn’t have much of an idea of what all this was about and so just waved the happy-ever-after-wand at it and then realising that that wasn’t a very good ending she then waves the i-might-come-back-and-sort-it-out-wand at it as well and then ends the story without any real explanation other than it was all about a messed up mindship doing messed up things — which the escapees leave it to continue doing.
Ho hum. Onto the last Xuya book in the series: The Breath of War.
My second reading of this book, you can read all about my first time by clicking here.
And that first reading was also my first escapade into Aliette’s writing and it left me incredibly curious to so many things that it made me go charging off to read through the whole Xuya series from beginning to end. And now i’ve finally come full circle and reached the point where this story fits into the series i just had to give it another read and review again and see how it goes now that i have a lot more background and context for it.
Reading over that first review it seems so strange now that when i first read this i had no idea what a mindship was, and now that i’ve got up to speed a fair bit on the ins and outs of Aliette’s universe this story makes a lot more sense. It does make this story a lot better knowing basically what a shipmind is and how all the other parts generally fit together. So yeah, much better having read the series.
One also gets a reminder of the authenticators in A Slow Unfurling of Truth, a human and mindship working together as a team, and i’m left thinking, wouldn’t it be great if The Shadow’s Child and Long Chau got back together and did some more investigating together. Two very damaged individuals who some of us would love to see grow more together in further adventures.
Next up: Rescue Party.
Available to read over at Uncanny.
I can’t say anything else but that this story was a disappointment. Either that or i completely missed something, and it’s not that exciting a story to go back over and check.
So what we have is a planet with an orbital that gets too close to its star during perihelion, but it needs to be mined because it has stuff that people want, hence the orbital.
For some reason there’s a mind ship that isn’t allowed to leave the planet during perihelion and so the ship mind has to be moved to a shielded safe room in the orbital to survive as the heart room in the ship isn’t shielded enough.
I have no idea why the mind ship can’t just potter off a few light minutes away, or shield itself on the dark side of the planet. For some reason, it has to stay and suffer the worse of the solar storm.
There’s also no mention as to why the orbital can’t be moved to the dark side of the planet either. One would think that a civilisation this advanced, that knows exactly when perihelion will occur, would have the simple, basic, common sense to alter the timing and orbit of the orbital to put it perfectly in the centre of the dark side of the planet at perihelion. They could also make that place and time the orbital’s aphelion with the planet which would add even more distance from the star, and give more time in shadow. It really is such a basic thing that unless the writer explains a very good reason why this hasn’t been done it utterly ruins the story.
So yeah, this one sucks.
And now i’m off back to re-read The Tea Master and the Detective, which was my first Xuya book, and the one that set me off on this long literary journey: so it’s nice to work my way back to it and read it again in it’s real context.