Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
the tea master and the detective (Aliette de Bodard)
Title: the tea master and the detective
Author: Aliette de Bodard
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardback/e-book)
The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:
- I previously read some of the author’s short stories and loved her writing style;
- It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and
- One of the characters is a mindship . . .
This mindship, named The Shadow’s Child, is not just any ship. It was previously a military ship who physically survived an ambush and massacre but since retired from active duty and is suffering PTSD and struggling to make ends meet. One of the things the ship does to make money is brew special blends of tea. These teas are made to suit the drinker’s specific goals and body chemistry. One day a woman named Long Chau comes in and requests a serenity blend to focus her mind. The ship takes the needed money and finds itself not only involved in a crime investigation but also having to face deep space where the ship swore it would never enter again.
Apparently this book is part of a series of books and stories set in the Universe of Xuya. I had never read anything set in Xuya before. I found the world-building and characterizations to be fascinating. I absolutely loved the neurotic, damaged The Shadow’s Child and the story told from the ship’s perspective. I didn’t really care much about the crime story itself but was more focused on how the ship was dealing with a situation it didn’t care for. Long Chau is a purposefully unlikeable character who is trying to do the right thing.
Ultimately while I really enjoyed the story, I think I would like a longer work with more detailing of how the society functions and how the mindships work. But this character-driven piece was a good introduction to a new world that I hope to visit more often. Besides who doesn’t love mindships? Arrr!
So lastly . . .
Thank you Subterranean Press!
Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:
Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.
A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow’s Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow’s Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow’s Child with her.
As they dig deep into the victim’s past, The Shadow’s Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau’s own murky past–and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars…
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