Currently Reading: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

This is proving to be every bit as good as people said it would be. An ambassador from a space habitat that controls access to a key navigation route is sent to the heart of a hegemonic empire. Mahit Dzmare has spent her life studying the literature of the not-so-benevolent Teixcalaanli Empire and is both enamoured and wary of the culture she has to navigate. The death of her predecessor is not her only problem, as she finds herself amid the courtly machinations of the Teixcalaanli elite. Luckily she has the aid of the former (and now dead) ambassador but unfortunately he is an out-of-date back up copy and the implant he is stored in maybe broken…

It’s great stuff. A bit of Iain M Banks and a bit of Ann Leckie and a lot of originality within a familiar frame. I’m currently listening to the audio book version on my socially-distant solitary bush walks.

Now this may sound odd but…it also sort of reminds me of the recent Detective Pickachu movie. The parallels aren’t exact but there are these odd echoes between the two.


12 thoughts on “Currently Reading: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

    1. Quite sparkly dialogue – I like that. There’s a sub-theme around C P Snow’s Two Cultures. Teixcalaanli is a society where mastery of literary forms is essential. Lsel Station is a society obsessed with expertise and skill sets.

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      1. I’ve enjoyed her short fiction in the past and nominated her for Best New Writer in 2017. I’m pleased to find out she’s good at novel length too.

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  1. I liked it a lot but it somehow seemed a little too familiar. A mix of Leckie and de Bodard and Cherryh. I enjoyed Velocity Weapon more but I think that may falter in the sequels while A Memory Called Empire may well shine brighter.

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  2. See, I kind of was left underwhelmed by this book, especially given all the praise it got. It certainly had all the foundation of a fascinating SciFi exploration of Empire and the various ways it works, from language to influence through trade to gender, ala an Imperial Radch or Baru Cormorant book. And bits of that book are there for sure.

    But the book moves at such a quick pace, never really taking the time to explore these issues, so it can get its main character messed up in the Empire’s problems and conspiracies right from beginning to end. By comparison Ancillary Justice takes its damn time – some would say too much, but for me it’s perfect – to set up the dominance and power of Empire through its strange forms and that never happens here at all. Maybe if I hadn’t seen the comparisons ahead of time and just enjoyed this book for its own merits I’d have liked it more, but as a stand alone book, it didn’t quite meet up what I was led to expect.

    (My review of the book can be found here in case anyone’s curious: https://garik16.blogspot.com/2019/08/scififantasy-book-review-memory-called.html)

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    1. garik16: It certainly had all the foundation of a fascinating SciFi exploration of Empire and the various ways it works, from language to influence through trade to gender, ala an Imperial Radch or Baru Cormorant book

      I was really underwhelmed with Baru Cormorant, because of what I saw as minimal character development, flawed worldbuilding and the unsurprising “surprise” ending. And the “characters doomed to a tragic life because they are queer” plotline really didn’t sit well with me.

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