Aliette de Bodars has just been added to my Read ALL her stuff list on the basis of this ninety-six-page novella. They say write what you know and it seems what Aliette de Bodard knows is how to conjure a whole universe from her imagination and capture it in a story of a strange friendship and an odd mystery that displays facets of the universe like a jewel being turned beneath a light.
I was deeply impressed by how well built this universe of mindships, and a fractured interstellar empire, centuries-old was. I was even more impressed that none of it was dumped into my lap like a systems manual. Everything I learned about this universe, I learned because it was important to the two main characters and the mystery that they are trying to solve.
The two main characters are striking and memorable: a traumatised mindship that no longer enters Deep Spaces where reality bends but blends teas that allow others to endure it and an abrasive, heavily drugged, difficult to work with detective with her own secrets and her own agenda.
This novella is a wonderful example of how much can be imagined and how deeply we can be immersed in it in the space of fewer than 100 pages. This is the kind of Science Fiction that addicted me to the genre when I was young and has never let go of me since.