Aliette lists this on her Xuya page as being after Shipbirth, but i feel it would have been much better read before that because in The Shipmaker we are informed of all the various things that would have occurred in Shipbirth before Acoimi turned up, albeit this is a completely different ship and birth, but the issues remain the same.
As you can probably surmise from the title, this is a story mostly about the person who makes these ships — or is in charge of doing so. We’re given quite a good tour behind the scenes of construction and the chaos caused when the woman, fully pregnant with the shipmind, turns up a few weeks early to give birth. All the parts of one of these shipmind births that were missing from Shipbirth are filled in for us — including a description of one of these shipminds as it is birthed. We’re also told how the different cultures within the Xuya universe view the women who gestate and birth these beings.
Once again, Aliette continues her universe building, this time adding Vietnamese characters — and lesbians — and how those people who chose to live lives without creating children are shunned within conservative Viet culture because there won’t be any future progeny to maintain the graves of their ancestors. I’m not sure why we’re given a lesbian couple to make this point because there’s nothing to prevent a lesbian having a child; contrary-wise, there are plenty of hetero couples who either chose not to have children or aren’t able to. Curious.
I could go on a big rant here about my thoughts on burial and the fucked up ideas that certain cultures have with keeping and collecting dead people, but i won’t, i’ll keep it short. Needless to say, i won’t be maintaining anyone’s grave, ever — heap your shunning and scorning upon me all you like. If i had my way i’d dig all the grave yards up, grind up all the bones for bonemeal fertilizer and return all that land to the living where it rightfully belongs.
Yeah, sometimes when i read something in a book i get so annoyed that my inner curmudgeon ventures forth for a good rant.
So yeah, i’ll stop me ranting now and go and read the next book: Ship’s Brother.