cover image The Tea Master and the Detective

The Tea Master and the Detective

Aliette de Bodard. Subterranean, $40 (96p) ISBN 978-1-59606-864-3

De Bodard revisits her far-future Xuya universe setting with this gripping novella about damaged characters driven to search for the truth. The Shadow’s Child, a sentient spaceship who was traumatized by her war experiences as a troop transport, makes a subsistence living at a habitat in the “provincial backwater” of the Scattered Pearls asteroid belt, concocting drug mixtures to help travelers function in the deep spaces. Then Long Chau, a consulting detective, hires her to help recover a corpse from the deep spaces so she can study how bodies there decompose. The corpse leads them both into an investigation that could reveal their own private secrets as well as the murky truth about the recovered body. De Bodard constructs a convincingly gritty setting and a pair of unique characters with provocative histories and compelling motivations. The story works as well as both science fiction and murder mystery, exploring a future where pride, guilt, and mercy are not solely the province of humans. Agent: John Berlyne, Zeno. (Apr.)