Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “On a Red Station, Drifting” as Want to Read:
On a Red Station, Drifting
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

On a Red Station, Drifting

(Universe of Xuya)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,601 ratings  ·  294 reviews
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 stat
Hardcover, Limited edition, 106 pages
Published December 24th 2012 by Immersion Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about On a Red Station, Drifting, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kindleworm Dot Com Aliette has a really good list on her website...

Also a list at my website with more up to date links to each …more
Aliette has a really good list on her website...

Also a list at my website with more up to date links to each story...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,601 ratings  ·  294 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of On a Red Station, Drifting
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is another entry in this author's Xuya universe series which is an alternate history where China discovered the Americas and moved on to an interstellar empire which features other South-East Asian cultures prominently, and notably the Dai Viet used here.

The empire is in a state of turmoil with a weak Emperor and rebellions springing up all over outlying planets. When a Lê Thi Linh, a magistrate of one of the planets threatened by rebellion, sends a blunt message to the Emperor regarding hi
Original review posted over at the Kirkus blog

On a Red Station, Drifting is a science fiction novella by Aliette de Bodard, and its recent nomination for Best Novella in the 2012 Nebula Awards put it on my radar. I'm glad, since this proved to be a remarkable read.

At first glance, one can see familiar science fiction trappings in its setting and basic premise: At some point in the future, Prosper Space Station is at a crossroads point of its long existence. Its resources are depleted as one of
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zread-1-scifi
This is my first De Bodard and I will definitely continue. I'm so intriguiged by the entire Xuya universe that De Bodard has created. Click HERE to see the sheer size of the author's overview. And the fact that they were published in many different publications over the years adds to the mystery, like an advent calendar in series form.

As one of the longer works in the universe it was a good intro in the Vietnamese inspired empire. I was very interested in the way technology had evolved within th
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ok, I am a total Aliette de Bodard fan girl now. I've been reading through her Xuya universe short stories over the last couple weeks, which I am learning really deepens my enjoyment and appreciation of her longer works. I am blown away by the gorgeously detailed universe she has created, and even more so by the complex characters inhabiting that universe. Linh and Quyen are painfully, humanly flawed, and as a reader, I deeply sympathized with both. Their story, like many by this author, is a be ...more
K.J. Charles
Jul 19, 2018 added it
Shelves: sci-fi
A weird, melancholy tale of decline, war, trauma, and human flaws of the worst kind, ie the ones that are the flip side of virtues. Lady Linh has torpedoed her soaraway career by writing a memo to spur the useless Emperor into action to fight a war. She's now a refugee with distant relatives including her cousin Quyen. Linh is traumatised at her war losses and deeply bitter, knowing she could be doing or have done so much more. Quyen runs the station but is so consumed with her own insecurities ...more
Alrighty... Well, here we are and I'm trying to figure out how to review my 4th DNF of the year. It's April. This book, or novella, or whatever, was 106 pages. Sheesh. I'm on a roll, but trying HARD to not let these books that I'm just not into grind me into a slump, so I'm quitting them when I feel it coming on. I banish thee, Slump-Bringer!

Anyway... this book, or novella, or story, or whatever, wasn't BAD. Hence the 2 star rating, but I just couldn't track the cultural nuances, and found that
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Sep 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars
This was a beautifully written sci fi novella with some interesting world building and diverse cultural elements. On first read through, the plot did not completely grab my attention but I suspect this is the kind of story I will come to love with future rereads.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
My second reading of this novella wasn't quite as successful as the first, but it was well worth another look despite some flaws sticking out a little more.

Some details had been lost in the intervening years, and made the return visit a nice combination of the old and the renewed: Linh's relationship with the disgraced and alienated Huu Hieu, the delicious-sounding food, the fractures and sometimes-forced loyalties that come of being in a large political family.

I can easily see myself rereadin
This was... an interesting read. And I have some thoughts.

* * * * *

It's been over two weeks now and I still don't know how to process this book.

Interesting. Unique. One of a kind. There's nothing else out there like it because there is literally nothing out there about Viet history and culture set in the distant future. And in space!

But on the other hand, I didn't enjoy the read as much as I thought I would, and I'm still trying to figure out why. Still trying to unsuccessfully process my thoug
Dawn C
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: media-ibooks
This is my first Aliette de Bodard and I’m a fan. She’s created a fascinating, delicate and beautiful silkpunk universe, mixing scifi with Viet tradition and folklore. As with JY Yang’s Tensorate series, I’m deeply fascinated with this particular style. I’ve always loved mythology from all over the world, and for me it brings depth to other genres, like horror and fantasy and now also science fiction. I’m so glad to have found this particular niche and the Xuya universe!
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Honored ancestors, Magistrates, Grand Masters of Grand Design Harmony
This is an aspiring piece of sci-fi litfic. Aliette de Bodard is a stylist who seeks to evoke sights and sounds and smells and cultural cues with her prose, and it is very evocative. On a Red Station, Drifting is set in her "Xuya" universe, an alt history space operatic setting in which Asian and Aztec cultures became technologically dominant and went into space, instead of the West. Previously I have only read her Hugo-nominated short story The Waiting Stars, set in the same universe.

Here, Viet
Kara Babcock
I need to give a shout-out to fellow reviewer Rob here, because I feel like I know Aliette de Bodard’s work mostly through him. I have quite a fair bit of her fiction knocking around in ebook form (thanks, Angry Robot), but I haven’t actually gotten around to reading much of it. So far I’ve only managed those stories nominated for Hugo Awards—and hey, look, another one. But seriously, if you want to get the scoop on de Bodard’s other universes, you should check out Rob’s reviews.

On a Red Station
The Captain
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys!  I was introduced to the Universe of Xuya in her novella the tea master and the detective.  I adored the sentient spaceship and avidly wanted more.  So I was super happy to get this story.  The biggest problem is that the majority of this series are short stories and not all are easily accessible (give us an omnibus please!).  The author's excellent page discussing this world says that:
The premise of Xuya is that China discovered the Americas before the West, and that the e
First line:
Linh arrived on Prosper Station blown by the winds of war, amidst a ship full of refugees who huddled together, speaking tearfully of the invading armies: the war between the rebel lords and the Empire had escalated, and their war-kites had laid waste to entire planets.

Nominated for multiple industry awards, "On a Red Station, Drifting" is worthy indeed of the accolades it's received. Brilliant Vietnamese-tinged space opera filled with an empire at war with rebellious generals, sentie
MrsJoseph *grouchy*
3 stars for the sheer beauty of the writing. de Bodard is so lyrical. But de Bodard's writing can be almost too lyrical. Sometimes too much is too much.

All sorts of Spoilers all below.

So. The biggest issue I have with this novella is the culture clash. As in I do not completely understand the culture and therefore missed/misunderstood/did not get a lot of the subtleties of the family’s interactions.

Quyen & Linh: To be honest, I do not understand the tension and attitude between Quyen and Linh.
Olga Godim
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
In this novella – two protagonists collide on a small space station, away from the war that rages in the center of the Dai Viet Empire. Quyen is the station administrator, not because she can do the job or was assigned to it but because she inherited it from her husband, who has left to fight the war. Linh is a former high-level administrator, talented and educated, who escaped the war but lost everything else: her position, her friends, her self-respect. She could’ve done the job of administeri ...more
On a Red Station, Drifting is a novella set in the Xuya universe, the first according to publication order, and of course I unintentionally read this (companion) series backwards. It also ended up being my least favorite so far.
...which means I can tell you that this series gets better with each book.

This novella is a story about the repercussions of war on a space station. We do not actually see anything about the war, but we see how the station struggles with resources when more and more refug
Oleksandr Zholud
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a SF novella, which was a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee. The story is set is some kind of galactic empire, which is based not on western (Roman/British) but on eastern (Vietnam/China) history.

A woman comes to a space station, running from a rebellion, which engulfed her planet, she was a high level bureaucrat, the magistrate, but now she is just a refuge, seeking a place to live. However, she has a dark secret, which can endanger the habitat.

The ‘eastern flavor’ is added by several ingen
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I kept not picking this up for the longest time because I had a vague memory of reading it and not ‘getting’ it, and thus I also avoided other books in the same world. Wrong! I’ve no idea what book I was thinking of, but it wasn’t this one: some aspects of the culture are a little bit opaque to me, like the significance of the poem that is a key moment for the characters, but it was a fascinating read. The characters are complex: not necessarily likeable, in fact most of them aren’t, but human. ...more
Paul  Perry
An excellent sci-fi story that gets its interest from the setting - a space station held by a clan, under a space empire founded by the Dai Viet dynasty ( of Vietnam beginning in the 9th century CE ). the power of the the tale comes from the way de Bodard uses this not just for cultural colour, but the very basis of the characters and their interactions.

The main protagonist are Quyen, the 'minor partner' of a marriage left in charge of running the station when her husband has gone away, and Lin
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read any of the previous short stories set in this universe, but it didn't take me too long to find my bearings in this Vietnamese/Budhist sci fi world built around respect for ancestors and veneration of the arts and learning. Plus spaceships and AI, of course. Power doesn't break along gender lines, but it just so happens that in this story all the protagonists are strong women in powerful positions and the men occupy a secondary status. I liked it much better than CY Yang's The Blac ...more
Sep 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was really good, I flew through it, and it also confirms that I love Emily Woo Zeller as an audiobook narrator
Nov 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Liz Bourke, in her "Sleeps with Monsters" column at sums this up better than I can, but somehow comes up with a totally different conclusion. Liz says "You may have noticed I’m a little enthusiastic…" and " On A Red Station, Drifting leaves the reader with a pleasant, thoughtful aftertaste."

I enjoyed the setting and most of the minor characters, but Linh and Quyen, the two central characters just completely rubbed me the wrong way. Neither one of
Michael Burnam-Fink
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, sci-fi
On a Red Station, Drifting takes some of the standard science fiction tropes: interstellar empires in decay, space stations ruled by a singular artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and runs it all through a heavy Vietnamese filter. The result is a compelling novella that centers around Confucian values of filial piety, harmony, and the family as a model for society.

Linh is a planetary Magistrate on the run from an empire falling to civil war, and her own challenge to Imperial authority in a
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
...On a Red Station, Drifting is an interesting piece of writing. It is a novella full of tension between the characters. An environment under so much pressure that traditionally expected politeness and family bonds are forgotten and outright hostility emerges. The novella shows us a side of interstellar war and puts the women who keep things running in the spotlight. It is perhaps not the most sympathetic portrayal but definitely a rewarding read. De Bodard once again manages to put together a ...more
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I thought this was actually quite impressive. It's only a 100 pages, but there is quite some world-building and character development in this story, and on top of that some really good characters, and two of them are female. Another is an AI. All of them are impressive. The two female characters unfortunately do not like each other, but their dislike is described realistically without hitting the reader over the head with it. Both of their POVs are understandable. I thought the ending was also w ...more
First of all: for those who don’t know, Aliette de Bodard has a list of free short stories you can read online. I binge-read my way through them over a year ago and they’re fantastic, and when it happened that I had Amazon gift card balance to spend I went for this novella almost immediately. De Bodard tells complex stories in expansive universes, and somehow she does it in short forms - it’s incredible.

(Full review on Kogi Reviews)
When I got to the end of this book, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. That and similar cliches Swiss cheese this story.
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
This is a complex world where a war is raging between rebel factions in an empire that has yet to make any decisive moves. Civilians lost loved ones in faraway battles, others have disgraced themselves by running away, a select few are struggling to help refugees when all resources are growing scarce. This seems fairly standard so far, but the Asian society feel to it is something I admire immensly. Honor plays an integral part here, something that western societies view as less important.

The di
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
On a Red Station, Drifting is a novella in the Universe of Xuya (think the award winning The Tea Master and the Detective). It is one of those all too rare Asian inspired futures, drawing from Vietnamese culture to craft a unique spacefaring civilization.

On a Red Station, Drifting is a focused, intimate look into that universe. It is a family drama set entirely on Prosper Station. It has three threads: the arrival of the disgraced former magistrate Linh, the sale of ancestor implants by the fam
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Dead Djinn in Cairo (Dead Djinn Universe, #0.1)
  • A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)
  • The Angel of Khan el-Khalili (Dead Djinn Universe, #0.2)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (Dead Djinn Universe, #0.3)
  • When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle, #2)
  • The Black God's Drums
  • Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries, #6)
  • Beyond the Dragon's Gate
  • Machine (White Space, #2)
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle, #1)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1)
  • A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan, #2)
  • Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters
  • The Red Threads of Fortune (Tensorate #2)
  • Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory (The Murderbot Diaries, #4.5)
  • The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections
  • The Descent of Monsters (Tensorate, #3)
  • The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She has won three Nebula Awards, a Locus Award, a British Fantasy Award and four British Science Fiction Association Awards. She was a double Hugo finalist for 2019 (Best Series and Best Novella). Most recently she published The House of Sundering Flames (Gollancz/JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.), the conclusion to her Dominion of the Fallen trilogy, s ...more

Other books in the series

Universe of Xuya (5 books)
  • Seven of Infinities
  • Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight
  • The Citadel of Weeping Pearls
  • The Tea Master and the Detective (The Universe of Xuya)

Related Articles

Are you itching to embark on an epic reading adventure? Lucky for you, this season offers some stellar (and interstellar) new books for...
126 likes · 23 comments
“She wanted to apologize again, but how many times could she repeat empty words without becoming empty herself?” 2 likes
“We study the past so that we may know the future. Why not study abroad, so that we may know ourselves?” 1 likes
More quotes…