cover image The Unbalancing

The Unbalancing

R.B. Lemberg. Tachyon, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61696-380-4

The finely wrought first full-length outing into Lemberg’s inclusive and lushly folkloric Birdverse universe (after the novella The Four Profound Weaves) begins centuries after the goddess Bird carried 12 stars into the world. One of these stars has become increasingly unstable, tormented by nightmares as it sleeps beneath the Gelle-Geu archipelago. Neurodivergent nonbinary poet Erígra Lilún has a subconscious connection to the star, but they’re uninterested in assuming the powerful position of starkeeper, preferring their quiet life of contemplation and gardening. Meanwhile, the brash and determined new starkeeper, Ranra Kekeri, discovers that the islands’ circumstances are far more dire than anyone realizes: unless the people of Gelle-Geu can stabilize the star, the archipelago is headed for environmental collapse. When Erígra and Ranra meet, they’re instantly drawn to one another as they rush to galvanize their community to mend what has been broken. Brisk action balances the meditations on gender and glimpses of the complex magic system as this unpredictable tale wends to an intense and deeply moving climax. It’s bittersweet and lovely. [em]Agent: Mary C. Moore, Kimberley Cameron & Assoc. (Sept.) [/em]