cover image High Times in the Low Parliament

High Times in the Low Parliament

Kelly Robson. Tordotcom, $14.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-250-82302-1

With this charming fantasy novella, Nebula Award winner Robson (Waters of Versailles) offers a satirical take on political gridlock. In a fascinating, all-female world, fairies have established a European Union–esque system of government called Low Parliament to keep humans from destroying each other and the planet. Flirtatious scribe Lana Baker is persuaded into writing and delivering a letter for fellow scribe, Cora, in exchange for a few kisses, and winds up being sent to Low Parliament in Cora’s place. It’s a dangerous assignment: there’s a hung Parliament, and the fairies will drown everyone who works there if Parliament can’t come “unhung” by the new moon. Lana quickly befriends the fairy in charge of the scribes, Bugbite, via magical yeast (which acts a bit like marijuana) and psychedelic mushrooms. While high, they encounter Eloquentia de la Barre, a dancer with whom Lana becomes infatuated, convinced she’s the only person who can save Parliament. Lana is a charmingly breezy narrator, though her falling asleep during the penultimate parliamentary debate undercuts Robson’s argument that parliamentary systems, however flawed, are worth preserving, and Eloquentia’s climactic call for decision feels a little left-field. Still, Robson’s fans will enjoy this easygoing perspective on a politically charged fairy tale world. Agent: Hannah Bowman, Liza Dawson Assoc. (Aug.)