Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Seven of Infinities (Universe of Xuya), by Aliette de Bodard

Subterranean Press, ISBN 9781596069770, October 2020

Vân is a scholar of modest background with no connections, and a single mem-implant (which she built herself )nd represents no ancestor of hers) to help her on her way. She's working as tutor for the daughter of a dead war hero, and helping maintain her own image of respectable standing by participating in a poetry group.

It's not a good start to the day when another member of the poetry group, the mindship, The Wild Orchid in Sunless Woods, arrives to warn her that some of the socially higher-ranked members have decided she's not worthy of the group and must be expelled. Sunless Woods takes it for granted that Vân will want to fight her expulsion--but Vân has secrets she can't risk attracting attention to. They're at an impasse, when a worse interruption arises.

Vân's student, Uyên, has admitted her own visitor, who has dropped dead in her room.

The three quickly determine that none of them knows this woman, who has been sufficiently modified that there's no hope of readily identifying her--and that she has implants that mark her as a thief who has been permanently banished. It's likely that those implants are what killed her. Sunless Woods persuades Vân that while of course they need to report this to the militia, they also need to investigate themselves, before the overworked militia gets around to it, and looks for the easiest answer.

Sunless Woods has her own secrets that she'd rather not have attract attention, although, having been a very successful thief who got a lot of media attention while keeping her identity
hidden, boredom in retirement is also an issue for her. She's also, it's fair to say, rather attracted to Vân.

What follows is a high-stakes adventure, involving past associates of Vân and Sunless Woods, as well as the former owner of the home Uyên and her Second Mother reside in, part of the honors and awards bestowed after the death of her war hero First Mother. It's a satisfying novella-sized adventure, with Vân, Uyên, and even the far older Sunless Woods learning, growing, and both revealing and discovering more of their own true natures and values.


I bought this book.

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