Review of On A Red Station, Drifting by Aliette De Bodard (audiobook)

Beautiful and unique cover.
  • Audiobook narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
  • Published by Tantor Media
  • Time: 5 hours 22 minutes
  • Released 4/9/2019

“Never have I experienced a more haunting, lyrical, poetic, and emotionally captivating science fiction story than On A Red Station, Drifting by Aliette De Bodard.” – me

Product description

A new edition of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards novella finalist, from the author of the acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy, and set in the same universe as the Nebula and Locus Award winning “Immersion”… For generations Prosper Station has thrived under the guidance of its Honoured Ancestress: born of a human womb, the station’s artificial intelligence has offered guidance and protection to its human relatives. But war has come to the Dai Viet Empire. Prosper’s brightest minds have been called away to defend the Emperor; and a flood of disorientated refugees strain the station’s resources. As deprivations cause the station’s ordinary life to unravel, uncovering old grudges and tearing apart the decimated family, Station Mistress Quyen and the Honoured Ancestress struggle to keep their relatives united and safe. What Quyen does not know is that the Honoured Ancestress herself is faltering, her mind eaten away by a disease that seems to have no cure; and that the future of the station itself might hang in the balance…

My Review:

I have noticed many times in the last few months that this author comes highly recommended by other scifi writers. She has been awarded for her books as well, multiple Nebula awards. Most recently in 2019 for her Novella “The Tea Master and The Detective” and as far back as 2013 for her short story, “Immersion.” Not to shabby, to say the least. I purchased it on a whim though, needing a good scifi dose for my commutes, one that wasnt so long, and was definitely rewarded for doing so.

I’m a huge fan of Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and Peter F. Hamilton and feel lucky to be living in a time when scifi writers are pushing the boundaries of creativity and imagination and am happy to add De Bodard to my list of authors I would recommend.

The story is mainly told from two characters perspectives. One, who runs and manages the space station, named Prosper Station. The other, a Magistrate, and “on the run” from her war torn Planet 23. Running from certain death as a result of the war, but also for speaking out towards the Emperor. One of the many unique perspectives conveyed was in the form of poetry, the importance placed on it, and the weight it Carries as a form of communication in this Space society. The main character doesn’t just make a speech criticizing the Emperor, her ideas and unhappiness with the war, and the direction the Emperor is taking things is voiced thru poetry. And as a result, has put not only her own life in jeopardy, but also anyone considered part of her clan or family, which can be extended to the Prosper Space Station and all inhabitants, for simply accepting her and welcoming her aboard. Family is everything, and one person’s mistakes impact all those that live aboard Prosper.

The most haunting aspect of the story is the intelligent mind that maintains the station and watches over every nook and cranny, originally, an actual human embedded in the heart of Prosper. The conversations with her, can be almost chilling, and the intelligence is considered the great mother, or grandmother of all who dwell there, but there is something going wrong with her which ties very nicely into the story.

The narrator Emily Woo Zeller, provides the perfect voices for the character’s and helps achieve the eerie, emotional vibe, and setting. I did find myself a little bit more in sync with it sped up to 1.25. But she is an amazing talent and did a superb job.

I would like to end by stating that it’s not often I cry, and am not ashamed to admit that the ending had me as close to tears as I could get, right on that cusp of a good cry. It only made the experience richer, and more memorable. A great story and highly recommended.

9 of 10 Stars.

On a Red Station, Drifting