A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine is a one-of-a-kind science fiction story that had my intense attention as soon as I started it.
It’s possible I needed to be more sober, but I think it’s because the protagonist houses a working memory (that talks back!) of another ambassador inside her mind. Right?
What makes Memory so fascinating is the world, or Teixcalaan Empire, that the author creates. Arkady Martine is a PhD Byzantine historian and (former?) apprentice city planner who drew upon many cultures, but mainly Aztec, and the Roman “sun cult” for her expansive, all-encompassing future. She includes details that add exquisite richness to the story line, too.
[Am I gushing? I’m gushing, but it’s so well-deserved.]
As you can see on the cover, Memory won the Hugo Award in 2020 and her follow up A Desolation Called Peace also won the award in 2021. We should all be so lucky. But, the books are considered LBGT, which might not appeal to some folks.
Another novel I read (that stands out) was labeled LBGT, Whiskey When We’re Dry, but honestly, I feel like this is what’s “trending” in the publishing industry, and not necessarily an accurate or defining label. A friend and I were joking that all books we’ve read lately are tagged LBGT, and I don’t have a problem with that, but I can see how that label is misleading.
A Memory called Empire and Whiskey, in my opinion, were pretty PG. In fact, all of the novels that I have read with the LBGT label are very innocent, sweet, and clean. Maybe if I ventured into something more Harlequin Romance, I’d be neck deep in queer waters, but so far, it’s part of the background, not the main thrust (can I say thrust here?) of the story.
In any case, it’s not a big deal for me. Another reason I don’t get bogged down by reviews or what’s considered edgy and popular because I’m just interested in a good book, and if the characters are diverse, great, we live in a diverse world, and I try to read a wide variety of books.
What do you think? What did you read in October?