Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, by Aliette de Bodard

Find this issue
The Empress of the Dai Viet Interstellar Empire assigned a team to track down her rebellious daughter, who disappeared thirty years ago. Now the scientist leading the investigation as also disappeared. (32,443 words; Time: 1h:48m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average
Recommended By: SFRevu:4 GDozois:5 SFEP

"The Citadel of Weeping Pearls," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 10-11|15, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

The universe is imagined in incredible detail--not a surprise, since there are a lot of other stories set in it. We loves the idea of time travel that allows limited interaction with the past, but where the past resets itself while you watch.

For it's length, very little actually happens in this novella. In particular, much is made of the threat of war--even to the extent that the Empress evacuates her capital and destroys her unfinished ships--and then the story just ends.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 10-11|15)
Aliette De Bodard Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB

5 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I read this story and I dis-agree with the rating and the review itself. I would rate it at least a 3. The objective of the story is the search for "The Citadel of Weeping Pearls". There was an outcome to this at the end. The threat of war was something occurring in the background and not a core part of the story.

  2. On reflection, we agree with you. We've changed the rating up to a 3. Thanks for calling our attention to it.

    It is still the case that the story leaves a lot of loose ends, but you're quite right that the central storyline does get resolved.

  3. I rather suspect that there will be a sequel novella to follow this novella, but as a stand-alone story "The Citadel of Weeping Pearls" worked for me. I enjoyed reading it very much.

    1. What did you enjoy about it? I've read (and enjoyed) other stories in the same universe, but I have to say that this one was a bit of a slog for me. Did you actually feel engaged with any of the characters? Or was there something profound in the story that you kept thinking about after you finished? Or was it just a good, solid, read for you?

    2. In general terms, I like the way Aliette de Bodard writes and I have read and liked other stories set in this universe.

      Specific to "The Citadel of Weeping Pearls", I thought it was a very good solid read, but it was also a real mystery. where did it go? What happened to it ? Will they find it ? Will they survive their search attempts ?

      Combined that with sympathetic characters who have suffered because
      of the disappearance of the Citadel of Weeping Pearls - the personal angle.

      I thought it concluded on a satisfying ending, but with more coming.
      It is not a straight-forward SF adventure of a search and find mission.
      There are kind of complex personal issues getting raised,
      which made it a very worthwhile to read, but it was not over-done.

      I get rapidly bored with novels that on and on and on with issues, but at novella length it was just right. The viewpoint characters changed and rotated so the issues got broken up by the search and other things going on in the story.