Friday, February 19, 2021

On a Red Station, Drifting (Universe of Xuya), by Aliette de Bodard (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781977331724, April 2019

Lȇ Thi Linh is a scholar, a lady of some rank, and the magistrate of a district on the Twenty-third planet. Or rather, she was. She sent a blunt letter to the Emperor concerning his purely defensive conduct of the war, protecting mainly the more central planets of the empire, leaving more remote planets, like her own, at risk. This led to her need to depart her district and the planet, and take refuge among rather distant relatives on the space station of Prosper.

Lȇ Thi Quyen is the administrator of Prost per Station. She's less educated than Linh, and feels her lower rank, but the station is her responsibility. Many of the higher-ranked husbands and wives on the station are away, fighting the war, and Quyen is struggling to control the deteriorating situation on Prosper, both within her family and in the station generally.

 Supplies are hard to come by because the rebellion--two separate factions--has been seizing merchant ship cargoes, and stress within the family risks destabilizing Quyen's control. In addition, though Quyen is only starting to realize it, the Honored Ancestress, the Mind that maintains the basic functions of the station, is deteriorating. Part machine, part human, born of a human mother generations ago, she's now suffering a disease that is degrading her ability to maintain the station. And while there's a cure possible, it's a drastic one.

Linh, meanwhile, is worried about the people she left behind, because the Twenty-third planet fell to the rebels after she left.

Quyen and Linh take each other in immediate dislike, which is both natural, and unwise. They each take actions that fuels the conflict and undermine each other when they'd both benefit from cooperation.

It's an interesting and compelling story. Both women are hard to like, but both are also trying to do the right thing (except with regard to each other) as far as they can see to do it.


I bought this audiobook.

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