My latest read was This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. This 2019 novella is an epistolary story, a series of letters between the two main characters, Red and Blue. They are agents for two warring empires. They travel back and forth through time altering history tp produce the results their side desires. Red and Blue are the “00s” for each of their factions. The letters start out as taunts, develop into fliration, and then love.
This novella was highly acclaimed when released and won both a Nebula and Hugo award. Over the past two years, I have been trying to blend more current books, especially those which have garnered critical acclaim, into my reading list. Like some of recent Hogo award winners I have read over the past twenty-four months, this one was disappointing. The story is more of a romance novella than a science fiction one. The world building is creative and the authors avoid the traps that usually crater “time travel” trope stories. While it is generally well crafted, the prose tends to be flowery and, often, overly complex just to show that the author could do it. It also overtly excludes male characters. Red and Blue are women. So is every other significant character in the book. Male pronouns never appear in the story. I just don’t understand why this type of contrivence is necessary.
Overall take, interesting enough read, but probably not for the hard-core science fiction fan.
This Is How You Lose the Time War
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?