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

(The Universe of Xuya)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,339 ratings  ·  252 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 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,339 ratings  ·  252 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 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
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
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
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: sci-fi, 2015
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
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
Mihai Adascalitei
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 d
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun universe. I really enjoyed the technology and the science and the way that art seemed to be wrapped up into the science. The concept of mindships are cool and the characters and their customs very unique.

I read this series completely out of order I think. This book was about a younger Linh who you read about later (or before) in The Citadel of Weeping Pearls. Which gives much more clarity about her past transgressions mentioned in Citadel.

To be honest, I don't think that these books need t
Set on Prosper Station, Lindh is forced to leave her posting as a magistrate on her first posting. She runs to distant relatives for aid.

What impressed me the most was the peek into Vietnamese cultures. Throughout this book, I learned about the reverence given to ancestors, the dress and the subtle and unsubtle ways of communicating. Added to this was the different leadership styles not based on gender per se but on your family background and educational level. The two women in this book, Lindh
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
3rd book for Space Opera September complete. This takes care of the first challenge, which is to read a space opera novella.

It was decent, but I've never really connected with books that feature "quietly judging each other and pulling political strings while also being weirdly calm and civil to one another" storylines. Everyone is so Zen and polite, but they all hate each other? Drives me bananas. Someone please yell at someone else! Break the tension!
Blodeuedd Finland
I have liked the narrator before, so maybe it is the story, it was just so sleep inducing
This is yet another indication that I need to pay more attention to book review blogs. I picked this up because of an interesting post on one, and am very happy with the result. I doubt I would have come across it on my own (despite the excellent cover), and finding current recommendations has been one of my problems. Not that I don't already have enough authors to try and catch up on.

On a Red Station Drifting has hidden depths. From the naming of characters, the culture and traditions are obvio
As a person who is a big fan of Using Your Words and Asking For Things You Want, this book was pretty frustrating, because not a single one of the characters does that at any point, and the whole thing quickly becomes a tragedy of manners in which everyone thinks everyone else is being horribly superior and unfeeling because they're all trying so hard to conceal their own emotions. I spent a lot of time going, 'Oh, Quyen, nooo!' and 'Oh, Linh, nooo!' and smooshing my face against my Kindle. That ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1)
  • The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015
  • The Black God's Drums
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach
  • Nine Last Days on Planet Earth
  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1)
  • The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo
  • Beyond the Dragon's Gate
  • A Dead Djinn in Cairo
  • Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5)
  • Uncanny Magazine Issue 25: November/December 2018
  • If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again
  • Hexarchate Stories
  • The Ascent to Godhood (Tensorate, #4)
  • Sisters of the Vast Black
  • The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water
  • Minor Mage
See similar books…
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

The Universe of Xuya (1 - 10 of 44 books)
  • Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight
  • The Jaguar House, in Shadow
  • Asimov's Science Fiction, July 2010 (Asimov's Science Fiction, #414)
  • Space and Time, Summer 2010
  • The Lost Xuyan Bride
  • Interzone 213, December 2007 (Interzone, #213)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection
  • Asimov's Science Fiction, August 2012
  • Anthology of European SF
  • Asimov's Science Fiction, February 2011

News & Interviews

Luster is the breathtaking and often hilarious debut from novelist Raven Leilani. The story follows Edie, a 23-year-old trying to find her way ...
38 likes · 7 comments
“We study the past so that we may know the future. Why not study abroad, so that we may know ourselves?” 0 likes
“Are not friends and sworn brothers as important as blood-brothers? A true friend will know your heart, and hear the roar of running waters and the distant wind over the mountains in the song of your zither, without any need for you to speak aloud.” 0 likes
More quotes…