A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine [8/10]

I’ve read more space opera in 2020 than in any year since my Asimov teen years. “A Memory Called Empire,” this year’s Hugo Prize winner, is another splendid example of that sub-genre. It stars a wonderful character, diplomat Mahit Dzmare, plucky, individualistic, and quick on her toes, who is sent from her outpost colony to act as ambassador in the center of the rapacious, refined empire of Teixcalaan. What happened to her predecessor? Negotiating the complex shoals of politics, while keeping hold of a technological secret, Mahit enlists allies and advances towards understanding, and perhaps resolution. The author’s writing is assured and evocative, the plot rattles along, and the overall space empire ambience, established with the help of extracts from documents and messages, is stunning. Highly recommended.

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