A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was something of a slow starter for me. I enjoyed the empire that ran on poetry aspect quite a bit. The standard book of poetical encryptions, the multilayered pride, and subversions built right into the language.
However, I've read a ton of murder-mysteries built into SF worlds so the core of the tale was something of a no-brainer and followed all the conventions. Welcome a stranger, an ambassador for a tiny space-station ensconced in a huge, huge empire, have her replace her murdered counterpart.
Okay! Really kinda usual, so the joy has to be in the worldbuilding, and for the most part, all the joy is there... until a bit further in. That's when all the really cool bits fly at us, with the Imago memory device, the collapsing politics, the roar of war, and how our little fish out of water ties into a huge conspiracy. That's fine.
In fact, it's more than fine. I really enjoyed the core and the end of this book. Easy consumption and I consumed it easily. Some of the best kind of SF (IMHO) is interesting tech delved deeply, how it affects societies, politics, individual relationships, and an individual's sense of self. This one does all of this quite nicely. I felt the flavors of Yoon Ha Lee and Anne Leckie within it. Maybe a bit of Cherryh, but by this late date, SO MANY writers have tried their hands at Cherryh. :)
I won't say this is on the same level as those, but I will say I had a good time. :)
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