Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight

Subterranean. Oct. 2019. 384p. ISBN 9781596069527. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781596069534.
Award-winner de Bodard shows her famous worlds, the Vietnam diaspora–inspired “The Universe of Xuya” and the magical war-torn Paris of “The Dominion of the Fallen,” here in a collection of 14 stories that push readers’ boundaries with fascinating speculative fiction. A restaurant on a space station is the setting for the Nebula and Locus Award winner “Immersion,” in which two women’s paths cross, and they must deal with self-identity and virtual reality. In “The Waiting Stars,” a young woman saved from being a vessel for a mind ship discovers that the truth of her existence is as vast as the universe. A shape-shifting dragon and his partner attempt to infiltrate a rival House and end up taking a turn when the childlike spirits of the House create havoc in “Children of Thorns, Children of Water.” The final story, previously unreleased novella “Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness,” focuses on House Silverspires and a simple birthday dinner gone horribly wrong.
VERDICT This stunning collection showcases de Bodard’s lush worldbuilding, meticulous research, and emotional prose. Whether fans of sf or fantasy, readers will find something to dive into here.
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