This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Damn excellent SF novella. I won't have any problems nominating this for next year's Hugo. It's poetical, yo. Not only poetical, but delighfully unforced in its romance... even as the time war rages between heavy tech and heavy biopunk up and down multiple timelines in a game of Go! that stretches to near-infinity.
Wait. Did I say romance? Yep. Hard SF romance, so light and deft in its hardcore science it becomes a whirlwind of ambiance designed only to paint glorious pictures and denude us in playful taste, hunger, and excitement.
The novella is mostly written in epistolary format, which I love, and it evokes so much crazy longing between these two enemies that it is pretty obvious that they have completely fallen for each other by the third exchange. :) Even if they're plotting their opposite's death by strange and subtle threads and means up and down the timelines. :)
Gloriously so, the tastes of history are obscure and rich. The format of the letters, even more so. Written in plants, seeds, only readable through taste or stings. Scorched space battlements and desolate beaches, dinosaurs and playful birds. Did I say this was poetry? Poetry as prose? The hunger is palpable, the romance, desperate.
Sure, they're post-human women, but the shape doesn't matter when they take whatever shapes they like. The feeling is everything.
So how does it turn out? Is it a tragedy? I will not say. But I feel lighter than air after reading this. It deserves a careful read. An engrossing read. A consuming read. :)
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