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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.


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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.

57 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 wasn't the only f/f story 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

    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

  3. 5 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 tho 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.

  4. 4 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.

  5. 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 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.

  6. 4 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 c 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.

  7. 4 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 des 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

  8. 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 t 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!

  9. 4 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 a 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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 Fallen world, th 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.

  12. 4 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

  13. 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.

  14. 5 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...

  15. 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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tasha Turner

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lira

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  22. 5 out of 5

    Varadia

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marzie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sima

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andy

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

  27. 4 out of 5

    fieldtoolarge

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ross Macpherson

  29. 5 out of 5

    MrsJoseph *grouchy*

  30. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  31. 4 out of 5

    Kaa

  32. 4 out of 5

    Tia Glomb

  33. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Pullen

  35. 4 out of 5

    Marina

  36. 5 out of 5

    Esther Ente

  37. 5 out of 5

    SR

  38. 4 out of 5

    Hteph

  39. 5 out of 5

    Deb

  40. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

  41. 5 out of 5

    Mizu

  42. 4 out of 5

    Lily

  43. 5 out of 5

    Zach

  44. 5 out of 5

    tetiana i...

  45. 4 out of 5

    Terry Weyna

  46. 4 out of 5

    Pexa

  47. 5 out of 5

    OLeg89

  48. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

  49. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Calvin

  50. 4 out of 5

    Raucous

  51. 4 out of 5

    Christian

  52. 4 out of 5

    Trish

  53. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

  54. 5 out of 5

    Christina Pilkington

  55. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Guillot

  56. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  57. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

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