We’re very happy to report that Aliette de Bodard‘s THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE is a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award! The latest novel in the author’s acclaimed Xuya setting, it has also been long-listed for the BSFA Award for Best Novel, and is a finalist for the Locus Award for Best Novel as well! Here’s the synopsis…
Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.
Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.
But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together…
Here are just a few of the great reviews the novel has received so far…
‘THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE is a fizzingly inventive space opera, quite unlike anything I’ve encountered before, and told with style, grace, and a big dose of heart. SF is lucky to have Aliette de Bodard.’ — Alastair Reynolds
‘Confident, sexy, and touching – THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “star-crossed lovers”!’ — Max Gladstone
‘Pirates, politics, sentient ships and unlikely romance all collide in Aliette de Bodard’s sapphic space opera THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE… With more tense political and social manoeuvring than rip-roaring action, events progress at a pace that maintains momentum while allowing plenty of time to revel in the texture and wonder of this rich, fascinating setting… With a unique world, a thought-provoking plot and a fragile, achingly believable relationship forming against the odds in the midst of rampant inequality and ever-present danger, this is a perfect novel for readers wanting emotional complexity, warmth and heartache in their space opera.’ — BSFA
‘A top-notch science fiction romance… THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE spins a thrilling yarn about pirate rivalries and epic battles, while proving a more-than-worthy addition to the canon of post-human space opera. And the romance is really, really hot. You’ll want to read this one twice: First to hold your breath as these two wives discover each other. And second to soak up all the clever ideas and lovely moment that feel totally human, even in this star-spanning context.’ — Washington Post
‘[W]hen she subtitles THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE “a Xuya Universe Romance” we can reasonably expect some of the high passions, miscommunications, betrayals, heartbreaks, sex, and reconciliations that seem to be checkboxes of that genre, and de Bodard delivers on all of them… de Board places the melodrama against the backdrop of flat-out space opera, which she excels at… The last third of the novel, with its space battles, navigational trickery, ship-boardings, sabotage, and desperate last-minute negotiations, is as colorful and satisfying as anything from the classic examples of the form.’ — Locus
‘Aliette de Bodard summons the spirit of HG Wells… in some far-flung future galaxy, love blossoms between two lesbian space pirates, one human, the other a sentient ship… Soon the pair are navigating the tricky waters of mutual attraction and virtual sex but must also deal with shifting allegiances among the pirate clans and rescue Xich Si’s daughter Khanh from slavery.’ — Financial Times (Best New Science Fiction Novels, January 2023)
‘What made this truly stand out to me was Aliette’s writing. As mentioned above, Aliette’s prose is outstanding. It is descriptive and evocative without being overwrought, it is witty and full of emotion. Every character, every scene comes to life immediately and plastically, drawing the reader into this world of space pirates, family biological and found and relationships of all sorts. It is at times delicate, and at other times matter of fact and then again it will make you laugh out loud with dry wit. The characters’ maturity makes them stand out in a market saturated with coming-of-age stories across young adult and adult publishing, and it is a true breath of fresh air to read about protagonists coming into their story after a life well-lived, with attachments and history, knowing who they are and what they want. I could not recommend THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE more.’ — Grimdark Magazine
‘THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE takes you on an exhilarating dive into space piracy with passion, politics, dazzling settings, and-even better-a profound core of love transcending hopelessness that rings throughout the story.’ — Everina Maxwell, author of WINTER’S ORBIT
‘An epic tale of piracy and romance.’ — Gareth L. Powell, award-winning author of Stars and Bones
In case you missed it, the UK cover for Aliette’s next Xuya novel — A FIRE BORN OF EXILE — was revealed last week; it’s another fantastic cover by Alyssa Winans (who is also responsible for the gorgeous THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE cover). The book is due to be published in the UK by Gollancz, in October 2023.