I hadn’t read *any* SF for a couple of months, what with any number of other calls on my time and an ‘ants in my pants’ situation which meant I just couldn’t sit down and concentrate on reading anything.
Then through the letter box drops the hard-copy of the May/June issue of F&SF that has been arriving, compliments of the esteemed Gordon van Gelder, for many years. By rights I should have sent another email or two alerting him to the fact he was shipping internationally to someone very unlikely to read the contents, but I’m glad I didn’t. The name Lavie Tidhar on the cover grabbed my attention, as he’s one of a few authors who in recent years I would make a point of reading anything at shorter length that came my way.
I was almost put off by the length, but turned it to my advantage, and read one short numbered section each evening and have to say I was most pleased, and enervated enough to go and read another story from Strahan’s current Year’s Best SF&F anthology.
Suffice to say, this is a story that many people would re-read, although TBH I think I may only have done that once or twice in my life! It’s a complex, layered and hugely enjoyable story, and has to be a shoo-in for next year’s anthologies. It’s a post-Collapse story, with the protagonist looking back on an adventure in her youth – but even her youth was some way after the fall of civilisation.
Tidhar cleverly gives a clear visual representation of the collapse. Not only have we had climate change and sea level rises, but mankind (I’ll call it mankind rather than humanity as it’s pretty much always men who do this shit) has not only fucked up Earth, but the Moon hangs in the sky, it’s shattered orb clinging together.
Tidhar writes beautifully throughout and sets up the novella in an opening intro with :
“”So hush. This happened long ago, in my third decade on the Land.
A message came, one day, from the place we now call the New Atlantis, where the seven sacred islands lie.…
I reluctantly went on a long, hard journey. I encountered loss, and I found love. I saw the Sun harvest in Suf and the fabled floating Isles of the Nesoi, and I suffered shipwreck. I met the mad robot, Bill, and I saw the ruins of La Ville Lumière. I visited Atlantis.”
The level of detail throughout the story is great, the societal changes are thought through, and there’s a lyrical, elegaic quality at times. And the conclusion in Atlantis, which takes the protagonist into an SFnal setting worthy of further exploration, is great. It’s a setting I would really want to see more stories set in, and for those of you who read novels, then novelisation (and a film!) would be welcomed.