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Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight

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Dust jacket by Maurizio Manzieri. A major first collection 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. Come discover Dust jacket by Maurizio Manzieri. A major first collection 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. 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. Limited: 1250 signed numbered hardcover copies Table of Contents: Introduction The Shipmaker The Jaguar House, in Shadow Scattered Along the River of Heaven Immersion June The Waiting Stars Memorials The Breath of War The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile The Dust Queen Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight A Salvaging of Ghosts Pearl Children of Thorns, Children of Water Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness (original novella) Story Notes


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Dust jacket by Maurizio Manzieri. A major first collection 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. Come discover Dust jacket by Maurizio Manzieri. A major first collection 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. 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. Limited: 1250 signed numbered hardcover copies Table of Contents: Introduction The Shipmaker The Jaguar House, in Shadow Scattered Along the River of Heaven Immersion June The Waiting Stars Memorials The Breath of War The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile The Dust Queen Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight A Salvaging of Ghosts Pearl Children of Thorns, Children of Water Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness (original novella) Story Notes

30 review for Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight

  1. 5 out of 5

    Acqua

    I knew I needed to read Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight when I got to know that there was an f/f novella in it - about Emmanuelle and Selene from the Dominion of the Fallen series, and really, the main reason I love them are the scenes of them I saw in various short stories and novellas, this one included - and it didn't disappoint. I probably would have read this anyway because I always want more Xuya universe (and short stories set in space in general), but the fact that the novella I knew I needed to read Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight when I got to know that there was an f/f novella in it - about Emmanuelle and Selene from the Dominion of the Fallen series, and really, the main reason I love them are the scenes of them I saw in various short stories and novellas, this one included - and it didn't disappoint. I probably would have read this anyway because I always want more Xuya universe (and short stories set in space in general), but the fact that the novella wasn't the only f/f story was also a nice surprise. As one can guess from the title, most stories in Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight have something to do with a war. If you think this could be repetitive, it's not, because these stories about war aren't stories about battles, but about the repercussions of it. It's about how war changes people on a personal level just as much as it can change a country, and about how war and diaspora influence a culture. What I want the most from collections (and anthologies, too), is that they feel more than the sum of their parts, and that's definitely true for this book. There's a value in this multifaceted approach to a theme that one can't get from reading all these stories individually in different moments. So yes, this is about war, from many different angles, and yet it's all but depressing. Some parts of it are definitely dark - I think this hits the darkest points in The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile and in The Waiting Stars, though The Jaguar House, In Shadow was also almost there, since it dealt with totalitarianism - but others aren't, and the collection ends on a lighter note with the novella Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness, in which the main characters try to make a party work in the aftermath of the fall of House Silverspires. (By the way: all the scenes involving Morningstar were so funny. I'm kind of sorry for Emmanuelle, but... so funny) Even then, not all stories deal primarily with war. The Dust Queen is about the role of pain in art, Pearl is a beautiful retelling of a Vietnamese lengend in space, and there are a few stories that are mostly about grief - Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight, which was a reread for me and my introduction to the Xuya universe, and A Salvaging of Ghosts - and some in which the main theme is colonization, my two favorite stories in here, Memorials and Immersion. Memorials does talk about the aftermath of a war, and it's about... pain-based tourism and voyeuristic portrayals of war, but it's also a story about taking back the ways your culture is misrepresented, and about what you owe to your people. This one was so vivid that the first thing I think of when I think about this book are the food descriptions (especially the scene in which the aunts order chè ba màu). Immersion is about globalization as a subtler form of colonization. It's one of the stories that stands better on its own and it's about how the colonizer's interpretation of a culture can be prioritized, and about how people who are used to living as a part of the dominant culture assume their own as a default (the usual "I have no culture") and so they try to reduce others to a few key points, the ones that feel the most different. About how this affects the people who are othered, and their sense of self, because being more similar to the dominant culture is seen as "progress" no matter what, and people end up hurting themselves in the attempt to assimilate. There's a lot here and it deserves all the awards it got. Since these stories have been written from 2010 to 2019, there are a few that feel dated. While I really liked The Shipmaker for being a bittersweet f/f story, the way it talked about being queer in a far-future space society and the way it accidentally conflated having an uterus with being a woman really made the fact that it was written in 2011 stand out. Overall, while not every story worked for me on its own - that's the way collection and anthologies go - I'm really satisfied with the collection as a whole, and I really appreciated seeing so many sides of the Xuya universe, which I previously mostly knew from the novellas. If I rated every story individually, I would have an average rating of 4.07 , but this is worth more than that for me. The Shipmaker - 4,5 The Jaguar House, in Shadow - 4,5 Scattered Along the River of Heaven - 2,5 Immersion - 5 The Waiting Stars - 2,5 Memorials - 5 The Breath of War - 3 The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile - 3,5 The Dust Queen - 4 Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight - 4,5 A Salvaging of Ghosts - 3 Pearl - 5 Children of Thorns, Children of Water - 5 Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness - 5

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    4.5 but if a book ever deserved upward rounding this is it. De Bodard is determined to insert Vietnamese and other culture into the body of modern F/SF, and she continues to do a terrific job of it. I don't actually even LIKE her Fallen Paris series, but here she's using it to focus on individual players doing the best they can in hard times, and facing hard decisions. That's edging into Guy Gavriel Kay territory, and from me there is no higher praise. I do like the Xuya setting, and I 4.5 but if a book ever deserved upward rounding this is it. De Bodard is determined to insert Vietnamese and other culture into the body of modern F/SF, and she continues to do a terrific job of it. I don't actually even LIKE her Fallen Paris series, but here she's using it to focus on individual players doing the best they can in hard times, and facing hard decisions. That's edging into Guy Gavriel Kay territory, and from me there is no higher praise. I do like the Xuya setting, and I particularly like most authors' takes on mindships. Now try to imagine de Bodard's agent with a new publisher: A: you know mindships? P: Sure, worked for Leckie and Reynolds and Asher. A: Good, because we're gonna use Vietnamese minds. P: Say what now? A: Yeah, and live births of cyborg minds that will go into ships, and when they die they will be surrounded with warped reality and .... . P: (pushes hidden button under desk) But somehow it works, and we take it as a given, then de Bodard builds a situation, and tells a gripping story, and it's space opera, often with a techno-magic thing you just have to go along with, and at the end it breaks your heart and you realize what a perfectly crafted jewel that story was. (I didn't say "gem" because that's part of one of the heartbreaks ...) If you're all Star Wars and MARVEL Avengers, this may not be for you. But if you can imagine having tea with a dragon Sherlock Holmes on a spaceship ... but wait, that's a different de Bodard book. Someday maybe we can have tea with this author, and watch the sparks of ideas crackling out of her brain, and it's no ordinary brain. Footnote: the cover art captures the author as well as ANY I have ever seen. It's gorgeous and elegant and totally RIGHT.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz (Quirky Cat)

    I received a copy of Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight is a short story collection written by Aliette de Bodard. She’s an up and comer in the science fiction and fantasy world, and she deserves all of the attention she can get. Aliette de Bodard writes science fiction and fantasy in such a way as to feel utterly human. And that fact becomes very notable in this collection, as it is full of women, I received a copy of Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight is a short story collection written by Aliette de Bodard. She’s an up and comer in the science fiction and fantasy world, and she deserves all of the attention she can get. Aliette de Bodard writes science fiction and fantasy in such a way as to feel utterly human. And that fact becomes very notable in this collection, as it is full of women, mothers, and daughters, people of all ages and colors. It’s a beautiful variety to be found, while also showing us that all humans have a place in her fantastical settings. There are thirteen short stories and one novella to be found within these pages. The short stories include: The Shipmaker; The Jaguar House, in Shadow; Scattered Along the River of Heaven; Immersion; The Waiting Stars; Memorials; The Breath of War; The Days of War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile; The Dust Queen; Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight; Salvaging of Ghosts; Pearl; and finally, Children of Thorns, Children of Water. You can find my mini-reviews of all of these below. Then there’s the novella, Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness. Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness is the only piece in this collection not to be found anywhere else. And thus it’s a highly notable piece – and one Aliette de Bodard’s fans are not going to want to miss out on. “Most books had silent women, or women who used their looks as a weapon. There were no female friendships. There were no mothers, no families. People drank coffee and spoke English, and most of them were blond and pale-skinned.” The Shipmaker As you might have guessed from the title of this short story, The Shipmaker is about well…a shipmaker. But the tale is so much more complex than that. This is the story of how one civilization creates its ships. And how love and loss affect us all – and why one should always take the risk, regardless. The Shipmaker was a beautiful and ethereal story. And it is the perfect short story for setting the tone in this collection. There’s this ephemeral sense to this story, and the way it ties love and loss, risks and rewards, so tightly to one another. The Jaguar House, in Shadow The Jaguar House, in Shadow blends several themes together in a remarkably short amount of time. The political setting enhances what is at its core a story about how far one is willing to go in order to get back those we love. And how far one can fall when given in towards temptation. I’ll confess that I found The Jaguar House, in Shadow to be an interesting follow up to The Shipmaker. At first, the two don’t seem at all alike. But upon a closer look, I can see how they’re tied together. The Jaguar House, in Shadow was a dark and interesting read. It was foreboding in many ways. And yet it was also oddly uplifting, thanks to the determination of our main character. Scattered Along the River of Heaven Scattered Along the River of Heaven is the tale of Xu Anshi, a poet ahead of her generation. And it is also the tale of Xu Wen, the grand-daughter of a poet who shaped the politics for years to come. The two stories are one and the same, but told from different perspectives, allowing us to see the full breadth of what truly happened here. Scattered Along the River of Heaven is another beautifully tragic tale in this collection. I loved the comparisons created between Xu Anshi and Xu Wen. There was something so profound about it, and yet so human at the very same time. Immersion Immersion is a fascinating story about what technology can do to and for our appearances. Or more accurately, what it can do for our outside facing avatars. It’s easy to see how a society could come to expect them. And likewise, to see how some people would become hopelessly addicted to them, as well as the virtual world they’re granted access to. This was a thrilling yet depressing short story. On the one hand, the setting and writing are absolutely splendid. On the other hand, it’s not afraid to dive into theories about what could happen to people more vulnerable to this sort of addiction, and how lost they might become. The Waiting Stars Memories, deception, and kindness. Those are all dominant themes in The Waiting Stars. Catherine was one of several girls rescued and placed in an orphanage together. They were told that they were gifted wit this – while always being looked down upon. And yet something never felt right to Catherine. Then one day, it all became crystal clear in her mind. The Waiting Stars was an intensely interesting and captivating story. It has a lot of similar concepts and elements as seen in other short stories in this collection, and thus doesn’t need quite as much of an introduction. And yet it’s one of my favorites. It’s a heartbreaking story at points, but it’s also deeply moving and marvelously written. Memorials Memorials is a fascinating short story, in which Aliette de Bodard explores concepts of the self, life after death, and so much more. This is the story of what we leave behind – and how some people in a society will always find a way to take advantage of even that. Wow. This story was something else. It’s a compelling read, and I loved reading every minute of it. For a short story, it had a shocking amount of twists and turns, all of which perfectly supported this thought-provoking tale. The Breath of War The Breath of War introduces us to a world in which every person has a natural counter. There’s the human, and then there’s the stoneman/woman. Without this partnership, no child would ever survive past their birth. And that is why Rechan is desperately seeking out her counterpart, before it’s too late. This short story was nothing like what I expected, thanks to the name. And yet it was so incredibly fascinating. This is one of those stories that feels like there’s so much more to it. In fact, I’m going to make a point of checking and seeing if Aliette de Bodard has written anything else in this world, because I want to read it. The Days of War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile The Days of War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile is an accurate title for this short story. And it’s likely at least partially the inspiration for this collection name as well. This short dives into war and the societal cost paid on something so harrowing. This was another fascinating read. It was uplifting at times, and somber at others. It made for the right balance, all things considered. And it left me wanting more, which is always an excellent sign in a short story. The Dust Queen The Dust Queen is another short story that focuses on loss and memories. What would you give, in order to be free of your memories and pain? Would it be worth the price? This entire piece is set in an intricate world full of lore and history. And it feels all the more real for it. The Dust Queen is another favorite of mine from this collection. It’s easy to read this piece and find yourself in the position of either the protagonist or the Dust Queen herself. And that is slightly unnerving. But it serves to make a powerful point. Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight In a universe in which family politics have gotten infinitely more complicated, how does one handle the loss of a loved one? And what if you were kept away from your family’s greatest treasure; the collected memories of your past generations? That and more is explored within Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight. Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight is an emotional gut-punch if ever I’ve read one. But I also think it’s vital to read, especially for anybody going through this process themselves (trust me on this one). It’s affecting and influential all in one. Salvaging of Ghosts Set in the depth of space, Salvaging of Ghosts is all about a scavenging crew. They’re the ones who go about collecting scraps from crashed or abandoned spaceships. And they do so despite the risks. And those risks are made very clear from the recent loss that Thuy – the protagonist of this story – is dealing with. Salvaging of Ghosts is perhaps one of my favorites from this collection. Thuy’s journey is powerful, being both emotional and full of so much determination and acceptance. I’m not going to say more than that though, because I don’t want to spoil it. Pearl Pearl is a brilliant and endearing story about a young man and his faithful little drone. Both were overlooked until one day they proved just how useful they were – as long as they worked together. But will it be enough to stop what’s coming? It’s also worth noting, this is the sole retelling to be found in this collection. Pearl was a fascinating read. In some ways, it had the most endearing elements in it. In others, it was fun trying to puzzle together what was really happening. I enjoyed reading the story itself, while also trying to pick up on all of the subtexts. Children of Thorns, Children of Water Children of Thorns, Children of Water combines science fiction and fantasy into one. It is the story of something other taking over a body (which seems to be the opposite of many of the themes in this collection). And all the changes that can bring with it. This short story probably took me the most effort to get into, perhaps because in many ways it felt the most different of the lot. I’m not entirely sure. I did end up enjoying it in the end though, for which I’m grateful for. Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness is the exclusive novella included in Of War, and Memories, and Starlight. And it’s honestly both the perfect addition and conclusion to this collection. Set in Aliette de Bodard’s dark alternative version of Paris, this is one that is sure to give thrills and chills. I haven’t read any of her other works set in this world, so I’m having a bit of trouble summing up its connection. Or knowing how much to say without spoiling everything. So instead, I’m just going to say that I loved Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness, and that I now really want to read the rest of her take on this dark Paris. Adding it to my list! For more reviews check out Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Beautiful. This was an intense collection that took a while to finish, because each story was so deeply moving and affecting that I wanted to sit with the fullness of those feelings for a while before moving on to the next one. As evident from the title, war and memory are major themes throughout all the stories. But so are family, and home. I found myself thinking about the different ways I experienced these stories versus the ones in Kameron Hurley's Meet Me in the Future: Stories, despite the Beautiful. This was an intense collection that took a while to finish, because each story was so deeply moving and affecting that I wanted to sit with the fullness of those feelings for a while before moving on to the next one. As evident from the title, war and memory are major themes throughout all the stories. But so are family, and home. I found myself thinking about the different ways I experienced these stories versus the ones in Kameron Hurley's Meet Me in the Future: Stories, despite the fact that both collections were ostensibly so centered around war. de Bodard's focus on family, culture, and ancestors are what did it for me, I think. While there are bigger points around trauma, war, colonialism, and cultural hegemony, each story is also very grounded in the experience of particular characters and familial relationships, often in a very sensory-rich way. I still remember the lines about characters drinking various kinds of tea from cracked celadon mugs, smelling dishes cooked with fish sauce... all elements that made the story accessible to me and provided entry points into the broader framework of the stories. I don't have the same cultural background as the author or any of the characters, but this book got me so hard in the diaspora feels. There were times when I'd finish a story, close the book lovingly and just stare at the cover going oooooooof. But you know, in a good way. Because the writing went right to that place inside me and curled up there. Of course, all the mindships and AIs and queerness also help - always favorite elements. I loved the way the collection finished off, right down to the last line of the very last story. I'm so glad I got to read it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Most of this collection consists of stories in Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya Universe, in which China colonized North America before Europe got there, which eventually resulted in an Asia-dominated space age, and Chinese (Xuya) and Vietnamese (Đại Việt) galactic empires. Two other stories are in her Dominion of the Fallen world, set in a ruined Paris ruled by houses of fallen angels. There are also a few standalone stories. The lightest reads are the Dominion of the Fallen ones. One of those stories Most of this collection consists of stories in Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya Universe, in which China colonized North America before Europe got there, which eventually resulted in an Asia-dominated space age, and Chinese (Xuya) and Vietnamese (Đại Việt) galactic empires. Two other stories are in her Dominion of the Fallen world, set in a ruined Paris ruled by houses of fallen angels. There are also a few standalone stories. The lightest reads are the Dominion of the Fallen ones. One of those stories serves as a short prequel to The House of Binding Thorns (book 2), while the other is a new novella set some time before The House of Sundering Flames (book 3). Yes, I know that ruined Paris may not sound like a light read, but the first story involves a cooking competition and the second involves a disastrous birthday party. The other stories delve into deeper topics such as grief, communities in diaspora, the effects of war, colonialism, resistance, and sacrifice. I loved the beautifully poetic sensibility of them, as well as the subtlety and emotional nuance with which de Bodard unpacks complicated topics. It’s hard to choose favorites when this whole collection is so excellent, but I particularly loved “Memorials” and “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” for their handling of groups in diaspora and cultural memory. “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” offers a poignant series of examples of different characters processing grief. “Immersion” demonstrates how tourists can bring their stereotypes to the cultures they visit, actually changing local cultures through their expectations and attitudes. This is de Bodard’s first collection of stories, and it is a truly excellent one. Most of the stories in this collection have been nominated for major genre awards, and several have (deservedly) won.

  6. 4 out of 5

    James

    A decent short story collection with an Asian/Vietnamese influence. The odd ghost stories are strange and scary and the collection as a whole is pretty dark. A fairly intense read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elena Linville

    What a wonderful collection of short stories! I absolutely loved it. Review coming soon.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Akemi G.

    Ships were living, breathing beings. (The Shipmaker) I'm a huge fan of Aliette de Bodard since I read Immersion online, and so happy to see this collection. She tells stories of births and deaths; shipminds are born as well as humans, as family members. What she means by a "family" is not the same with what most Americans mean. In America (and perhaps in much of Europe), a family usually means the parent(s) and children; for her, who remembers the old Asian way, a family is a community, bound by Ships were living, breathing beings. (The Shipmaker) I'm a huge fan of Aliette de Bodard since I read Immersion online, and so happy to see this collection. She tells stories of births and deaths; shipminds are born as well as humans, as family members. What she means by a "family" is not the same with what most Americans mean. In America (and perhaps in much of Europe), a family usually means the parent(s) and children; for her, who remembers the old Asian way, a family is a community, bound by their ancestors and the practice of ancestor worship, and it often shares destiny--therefore, a personal sacrifice for the community is praised. I'm not taking sides; I'm an Asian American who have rather knowingly left the old way. Still, I find her world fascinating. I won't go into too much details about deaths in this collection; a mother, a daughter, a shipmind . . . and sometimes, a condition that might be worse than death happens to a Mind. Cross-cultural issues are a major theme. Immersion can be seen as a story about augmented reality (even though the term is not used); the AR is so powerful that it can affect one's own identity as well. And you know how people of color have been taught to look and behave like the white people; sometimes the PoC themselves believe it's the correct thing to do. What does that do to their sense of self? Agnes (implied to be of Vietnamese descent) intended to do good. Her husband (white) loves her but is powerless of her change. I also highly recommend her The Tea Master and the Detective

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lael Walters

    This is the first of Aliette de Bodard's works that I have read, drawn in by the beautiful cover. Each story is poignant and heart-rending, In general I do not care for stories that make me feel sad but these stories draw me in and I find myself wishing for more. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alejandra mypacificroad

    I called my mom very excitedly and made her come running. “Qué pasa???” “There is a word in nahuatl!!!! Look!”. I honestly can’t describe how I felt when I came across Mexica culture and language in this book. This has never happened unless the context had something to do with Mexican culture and even then, it has been from a western point of view. Representation matters <3 This is the first book by Aliette de Bodard I have read. I came across the cover on Twitter and I just KNEW I had to have I called my mom very excitedly and made her come running. “Qué pasa???” “There is a word in nahuatl!!!! Look!”. I honestly can’t describe how I felt when I came across Mexica culture and language in this book. This has never happened unless the context had something to do with Mexican culture and even then, it has been from a western point of view. Representation matters <3 This is the first book by Aliette de Bodard I have read. I came across the cover on Twitter and I just KNEW I had to have it. I emailed the author who put me in contact with the correct person and they mailed me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Well here it goes: Absolutely Wonderful. Absolutely Original. Completely outside of the box. It destroyed the fucking box. Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight is a collection of sci-fi short stories that take place in the Xuya Universe, an alternate Universe set on Chinese and Vietnamese galactic empires. The stories deal with war, grief, and community, and colonialism. Aliette de Bodard is a genius in world building and sensibly unpacks very pertinent issues. I was completely sucked into each world and was left wanting more. I think a whole series could come out of each story. Although I do prefer some stories to others, they are all winners. I have my eye on a couple of her books! Specifically, The Tea Master and the Detective, and Servant of the Underworld.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lou Jacobs

    Marvelous collection of 14 tantalizing stories ... either Award Winners or nominees. This is de Bodard's first collection ... a tour de-force sampling of her oeuvre. She proves to be a savant who has mastered the usage of the science fiction platform to express her meaningful commentary on society and culture. Many of these stories are set in the Xuya Universe ... a Chinese colony on the West Coast which later as part of the Galactic empire seeds off into space. In her universe the Chinese have Marvelous collection of 14 tantalizing stories ... either Award Winners or nominees. This is de Bodard's first collection ... a tour de-force sampling of her oeuvre. She proves to be a savant who has mastered the usage of the science fiction platform to express her meaningful commentary on society and culture. Many of these stories are set in the Xuya Universe ... a Chinese colony on the West Coast which later as part of the Galactic empire seeds off into space. In her universe the Chinese have discovered the Americas before the West and Europeans .. which has lead to a space age dominated by the Asian powers. Her richly textured stories are infused with her own Vietnamese culture ... as well as drawing from stories of Ancient India and Ancient China. The marjority of these stories are 5 Star outings with an occasional 4 Star. ... none will disappoint . Woman and family take center stage in her world building. We are treated to one original novella, "Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness", to complement the other highly acclaimed stories. The following passage illustrates her skills... through the eyes of her female charater, Quy: " a sickeningly familiar ballet Quy had been seeing most of her life, a unison of foreigners descending on the station like a plague of centipedes or leeches ... " And, multiple stories center on sentient spaceships - Mindships ... in which the ship is controlled by a being of womb birth ... and we are exposed to the ramifications of this unique condition. Thanks to NetGalley and Subterranean Press (#SubPress) for providing an Uncorrected Proof of this gem in exchange for an honest review. This volume will prove to be an excellent primer for those unfortunate enough to have never experienced the joy of reading Aliette de Bodard.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    The initial description I read for this book talked about fairytales from another culture's perspective, which immediately fascinated me. There are 14 short stories, all dealing with war, and it's aftermath, and cultural differences. I still have yet to decide exactly how I feel about these stories. I very much enjoyed the cultural perspective, and reading about the characters' varying responses to the attempts to integrate or destroy their world, depending on the story. I absolutely loved the The initial description I read for this book talked about fairytales from another culture's perspective, which immediately fascinated me. There are 14 short stories, all dealing with war, and it's aftermath, and cultural differences. I still have yet to decide exactly how I feel about these stories. I very much enjoyed the cultural perspective, and reading about the characters' varying responses to the attempts to integrate or destroy their world, depending on the story. I absolutely loved the creation of the mind ships. Immersion (not a mindship story) was terrific, too. In many cases, I was left wanting to know more or wanting to know what happened next. However, quite a few were confusing to read and hard to get into. I'm not sure whether that was deliberate or simply because I have not read anything else by this author and had no background to which I could refer. On the whole, I enjoyed this book, but I might recommend first reading some of the author's other works for context. I would give it three and a half stars. My thanks to Netgalley.com for my copy of this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Meg Pontecorvo

    A collection of gorgeous, moving stories, each well-structured and economically told. I was fascinated by the stories set in the Xuya universe, where the grief, memories, and political oppression resulting from the Vietnamese diaspora led to great resilience for de Bodard's characters (and to surprising, and satisfying plot twists as well). The post-apocalyptic Paris in the "Fallen" stories at the end of the book were hard to follow, however; unlike the Xuya stories, where the world-building was A collection of gorgeous, moving stories, each well-structured and economically told. I was fascinated by the stories set in the Xuya universe, where the grief, memories, and political oppression resulting from the Vietnamese diaspora led to great resilience for de Bodard's characters (and to surprising, and satisfying plot twists as well). The post-apocalyptic Paris in the "Fallen" stories at the end of the book were hard to follow, however; unlike the Xuya stories, where the world-building was made clear as the plots unfolded, the Fallen stories seemed intended for readers already familiar with de Bodard's Fallen series (and, not having read those novels, I was confused by the "rules of magic" in the stories and not interested in the characters, because their contexts / backstories, and thus the overall stakes were opaque). But the Xuya stories were superb, each emotionally intense enough to make the collection worth reading slowly, to savor the visceral details of the settings and the complex feelings and choices of the characters.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chay

    Thank you Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review. This is the first work by Aliette de Bodard that I've read and I appreciate the genius and world-building presented across this collection of fourteen sci-fi/fantasy short stories. However, it's unfortunate that while reading these I also realized that short stories are not for me. With each new tale, I felt suddenly dropped into unfamiliar territory and when I finally got my bearings, it was over and I desperately Thank you Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review. This is the first work by Aliette de Bodard that I've read and I appreciate the genius and world-building presented across this collection of fourteen sci-fi/fantasy short stories. However, it's unfortunate that while reading these I also realized that short stories are not for me. With each new tale, I felt suddenly dropped into unfamiliar territory and when I finally got my bearings, it was over and I desperately wanted more. It's interesting to read sci-fi/fantasy that is not generated from Western preconceptions of Asian myths and legends. Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight is richly painted with the Chinese and Vietnamese history and interpretations of how Earth could have been without European dominance. My favorite short stories included "The Shipmaker", "Scattered Along the River of Heaven", and "Immersion". I greatly look forward to reading Bodard's other bodies of work. My rating: 4

  15. 5 out of 5

    Suzi

    I love Aliette deBodard. I’d already read a bunch of her short stories because I’m a completionist when it comes to my favorite authors, but it’s great to have them collected all together. And while some were re-reads, there were also a bunch that I hadn’t read. I love the Xuya universe. I’m less fond of the post apocalyptic Paris and actually ended up skipping a few stories that took place there. I just find that universe too depressing. Most of the stories take place in the Xuya universe I love Aliette deBodard. I’d already read a bunch of her short stories because I’m a completionist when it comes to my favorite authors, but it’s great to have them collected all together. And while some were re-reads, there were also a bunch that I hadn’t read. I love the Xuya universe. I’m less fond of the post apocalyptic Paris and actually ended up skipping a few stories that took place there. I just find that universe too depressing. Most of the stories take place in the Xuya universe though, or are stand alones. I love how the Xuya stories are all separate, but as you read more of them, the world becomes more fleshed out and deeper. Like a string of pearls creating a necklace. The mindships are especially intriguing. A wonderful interrogation of artificial intelligence and of personhood. All in all, an enjoyable collection. Nice to have so many of her short stories together in ebook form.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I received an ARC via Netgalley though all thoughts are my own. This was such a wonderful mix of short stories set in the Xuya universe and I'm so happy to have read it. I can't wait to read more by Aliette who has a way of pulling you in and struggling to go back to the real world. If you've enjoyed her other books or enjoy interpretations of Chinese as well as Vietnamese myths with futuristic aspects, you'll enjoy this book of short stories. Full of adventures, myths, a touch of magic, space and I received an ARC via Netgalley though all thoughts are my own. This was such a wonderful mix of short stories set in the Xuya universe and I'm so happy to have read it. I can't wait to read more by Aliette who has a way of pulling you in and struggling to go back to the real world. If you've enjoyed her other books or enjoy interpretations of Chinese as well as Vietnamese myths with futuristic aspects, you'll enjoy this book of short stories. Full of adventures, myths, a touch of magic, space and so much more, it was such a wonderful reading journey!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Pankau

    A nice collection of short stories dealing heavily with themes of immigrants, family, and Vietnamese culture. Most of the stories are set in the her Xuya universe where China & Vietnam lead space exploration/colonization with sentient spaceships. A few of the stories are set in a fantastical Paris that was heavily damaged by a magical war. These were good, but they didn't quite click with me. I appreciate them for their themes and characters, and I really hope she keeps writing because we A nice collection of short stories dealing heavily with themes of immigrants, family, and Vietnamese culture. Most of the stories are set in the her Xuya universe where China & Vietnam lead space exploration/colonization with sentient spaceships. A few of the stories are set in a fantastical Paris that was heavily damaged by a magical war. These were good, but they didn't quite click with me. I appreciate them for their themes and characters, and I really hope she keeps writing because we need these kinds of stories and diversity to bring variety to sci-fi/fantasy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    This is my favourite book of the year. I bought it as I saw the cover on twitter and thought it was stunning. I saw the women and then opened it up to reveal they were on a spaceship not in a royal palace! This is the book I feel I've been waiting my whole life for! The stories were nearly all about women. They focused on a scifi world that wasn't dominated by white people. Instead other cultures had gone to the stars. It was wonderful. I want to read everything Aliette has written. Very highly This is my favourite book of the year. I bought it as I saw the cover on twitter and thought it was stunning. I saw the women and then opened it up to reveal they were on a spaceship not in a royal palace! This is the book I feel I've been waiting my whole life for! The stories were nearly all about women. They focused on a scifi world that wasn't dominated by white people. Instead other cultures had gone to the stars. It was wonderful. I want to read everything Aliette has written. Very highly recommended.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ralph Blackburn

    Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard- An excellent exotic collection of space fantasy that is like a soft petal opening to a razor’s embrace. Strong intense characters, betrayed allegiances, lost dark souls haunt these striking and poignant pages. These fourteen stories include a new novella, Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness, and award winning Immersion. If you are not familiar with this author, from page one you will begin a journey of sublime discovery that is rich Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard- An excellent exotic collection of space fantasy that is like a soft petal opening to a razor’s embrace. Strong intense characters, betrayed allegiances, lost dark souls haunt these striking and poignant pages. These fourteen stories include a new novella, Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness, and award winning Immersion. If you are not familiar with this author, from page one you will begin a journey of sublime discovery that is rich and rewarding. Enough said: Highly Recommended!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lia Cooper

    i'll have a review and more detailed thoughts on this collection sometime soon (forgive me my review schedule got shot to pieces between end of summer vacation, work, and school starting this week). Overall it's EXCELLENT. the first 11 stories are just *explosion noises* love them. If you're a fan of Aliette de Bodard you have to read this, if you were thinking about checking de Bodard out i think this is a great place to start. but like i said, more detailed thoughts coming soon.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marzie

    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 (in a gorgeous edition from SubPress), then her luminous novella, In the Vanishers' Palace. 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 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 (in a gorgeous edition from SubPress), then her luminous novella, In the Vanishers' Palace. 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. I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Subterranean Press in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Brett

    Aliette de Bodard is one of our most graceful and profound writers of science fiction and fantasy today. At long last we have been blessed with a collection of much of her short fiction, much of it set in her Xuya Universe (an alternate future set among Chinese and Vietnamese star-spanning empires). De Bodard's work is sad, and it is deep, and it is intensely thoughtful

  23. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    4.5 stars. Complicated, gorgeous sci-fi and fantasy stories that grapple with the aftermath of colonialism and war, motherhood, family ties, intricate politics, tech implications, and so much more. I've always enjoyed Aliette de Bodard's novels and novellas, but her short fiction is in another league entirely. Wow.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sercalunna Pautasso

    This is the first book I read by Aliette de Bodard and I'm speechless as all the stories are amazing, poignant and well written. The world building is amazing and the character development is excellent. I want to read other works by this author. I strongly recommend it. I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    W.L. Bolm

    This was a fabulous melding of sci fi, fantasy, and myth. The stories were so beautiful. They are all masterfully written. This is probably the most solid collection of short stories I've read all year.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Galen Strickland

    I'd rate the individual stories from good, to very good, to excellent. Lyrical prose, intriguing characters, and a consistency of theme make this a highly recommended collection. http://www.templetongate.net/wars-mem...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Guilan

    I can’t say enough good things about the Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya universe. Her short stories are always thought provoking and moving.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I'd read a work or two of Aliette de Bodard before Of Wars, and Memories, and Stralight, but this stunning collection has made me an unabashed fan. Each story is an exquisite work of art, exploring identity, love, loss, pain, violence, and family. Received via NetGalley.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Glennis

    The nice thing about this collection is that you can pick it up without knowing about the universes the stories are set and have an incredible read waiting for you. There is one new novella set in her Dominion of the Fallen series, but you don’t need to know the backstory to enjoy it. After reading a story set in Obsidian and Blood series, I now want to track down those books and read them. A great collection of short fiction and I can’t wait to read more from this writer. Digital review copy The nice thing about this collection is that you can pick it up without knowing about the universes the stories are set and have an incredible read waiting for you. There is one new novella set in her Dominion of the Fallen series, but you don’t need to know the backstory to enjoy it. After reading a story set in Obsidian and Blood series, I now want to track down those books and read them. A great collection of short fiction and I can’t wait to read more from this writer. Digital review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tasha Turner

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