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On a Red Station, Drifting

(The Universe of Xuya)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,257 ratings  ·  238 reviews
The ebook 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 stations artificial intelligence has
Kindle Edition, 116 pages
Published May 13th 2013 by Nine Dragon Rivers (first published December 24th 2012)
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Elizabeth McCoy Red Station, Drifting is probably a fine one to start with. Most of the short stories in this universe that I've found are pretty stand-alone. I also…moreRed Station, Drifting is probably a fine one to start with. Most of the short stories in this universe that I've found are pretty stand-alone. I also found , where the author gives some starting points.(less)

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Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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 ...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
K.J. Charles
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
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
Dawn C
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media-ibooks
This is my first Aliette de Bodard and Im a fan. Shes created a fascinating, delicate and beautiful silkpunk universe, mixing scifi with Viet tradition and folklore. As with JY Yangs Tensorate series, Im deeply fascinated with this particular style. Ive 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. Im so glad to have found this particular niche and the Xuya universe! ...more
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
Kara Babcock
I need to give a shout-out to fellow reviewer Rob here, because I feel like I know Aliette de Bodards work mostly through him. I have quite a fair bit of her fiction knocking around in ebook form (thanks, Angry Robot), but I havent actually gotten around to reading much of it. So far Ive only managed those stories nominated for Hugo Awardsand hey, look, another one. But seriously, if you want to get the scoop on de Bodards other universes, you should check out Robs reviews.

On a Red Station,
Olga Godim
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 couldve done the job of administering ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
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
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 familys interactions.

Quyen & Linh: To be honest, I do not understand the tension and attitude between Quyen and
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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! Ive no idea what book I was thinking of, but it wasnt 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 arent, but human. You ...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
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
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 ...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 Im 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 them is willing to bend in any
Michael Burnam-Fink
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
...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
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 ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Mihai Adascalitei
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For generations Prosper Station has thrived under the guidance of its Honoured Ancestress: born of a human womb, the stations artificial intelligence has offered guidance and protection to its human relatives.
But war has come to the Dai Viet Empire. Prospers brightest minds have been called away to defend the Emperor; and a flood of disorientated refugees strain the stations resources. As deprivations cause the stations ordinary life to unravel, uncovering old grudges and tearing apart the
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
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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
First of all: for those who dont 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 theyre 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 - its incredible.

(Full review on Kogi Reviews)
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful, tightly wound narrative of family drama, politics, and a universe at war.

Its refreshing to encounter a sci-fi story with references to Dream of a Red Chamber and Three Kingdoms.
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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, ...more

Other books in the series

The Universe of Xuya (1 - 10 of 43 books)
  • 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
  • Interzone 231, November-December 2010 (Interzone, #231)

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