My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When Aliette de Bodard is good; she is very good. I think I’ve said it before, but the tone of her stories often reminds me of Somtow Sucharitkul, whom I like a lot – science fiction, but with a glittering, decadent edge.
Here, our main character works in a high-risk field: venturing into “deep” layers of space where ships have wrecked to retrieve the jewels that these weird layers of reality form from human corpses. The jewels are beautiful – but they’re commercially viable because they’re used as a recreational drug. On this venture, though, she’s not interested in profit – but in retrieving a memento of the daughter, who died on an earlier job, doing the same thing.
The story is poignant and weird, but what really makes it is all the glimpses of the even stranger world around the edges of the story.
This one is part of the ‘Xuya’ universe.