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The Tea Master and the Detective

(The Universe of Xuya)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,723 ratings  ·  306 reviews
Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of ...more
Kindle Edition, 96 pages
Published April 2nd 2018 by JABberwocky Literary Agency (first published March 31st 2018)
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Aliette Just a quick note: I don't price the books, my publisher does! Subterranean specialises in limited hardback editions, hence the price. (the ebook…moreJust a quick note: I don't price the books, my publisher does! Subterranean specialises in limited hardback editions, hence the price. (the ebook edition is indeed much cheaper)(less)
Aliette I would like to write more about them but there's nothing definite yet! (I have ideas but I also have a bunch of contractual deadlines totally…moreI would like to write more about them but there's nothing definite yet! (I have ideas but I also have a bunch of contractual deadlines totally unrelated to this--to a certain extent it depends on sales of this as novellas are a tough market) (less)
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In the age of fantasy books of ridiculous lengths--why, hello, Way of Kings--and series that may never be finished--ah-hem, George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss--I've rediscovered my love of novellas. de Bodard has written an intriguing, sure to be award-nominated novella about a mind-ship hired by a brilliant, drug-addicted woman who wants to retrieve a dead body for study. Naturally, it turns out that it was no mere space-accident that caused the untimely death. When the shipmind, The Shado ...more
Lois Bujold
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SF-mystery readers

This novella reads like the lovechild of Sherlock Holmes and the Ship Who Sang, dropped into a wormhole inside a space capsule made of Asian history. My first sample of de Bodard: while it is a part, or at least inside, of a longer series, and I suspect the world-building might make for a more leisurely unpacking if one started at the beginning novel, I thought this story worked just fine as a stand-alone.

Now I want to hunt up the proper beginning.

(Also, it turns out I like the new way of sellin
Dan Schwent
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, 2017-books
The Shadow's Child, the brain of a mindship, is shellshocked and brewing teas for safer space travel when a consulting detective shows up at her door...

This was a Netgalley find and one of the few Netgalley finds that didn't immediately feel like a homnework assignment from a hated teacher.

Set in an asteroid belt with a Vietnamese-influenced culture, The Tea Master and the Detective has its roots loosely planted in A Study In Scarlet. Long Chau hires The Shadow's Child to brew her tea and take h
Manuel Antão
Oct 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The Accepted Aliens: “The Tea Master and the Detective” by Aliette de Bodard

“When you’re out there, with no one and nothing to stand in your way - when you realise how small you are - you also realise that everything that ever was, that ever will be, is connected to you. That we’re all, in the end, part of the same great thing.”

In “The Tea Master and the Detective” by Aliette de Bodard

I find it extremely funny that in some reviews rega
Gail Carriger
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, reviewed
This particular novella was a mix of Sherlock Holmes (only way better written than Doyle and with female main characters), McCaffery's The Ship Who... series, and Feist & Wurts Daughter of the Empire series. 

Bodard is a master of artfully invested world building. She turns this story into a lyrical journey into space, as if the words themselves are overlaid with the serenity of a tea ceremony. Reading it felt restful and ritualized. 

What is that st6ory? Well, a Brewer of Serenity (who also h
K.J. Charles
A glorious spaceship/detective story in which the Holmes-style Consulting Detective is a woman in a Vietnamese-influenced future culture, and Watson is a traumatised sentient starship. Absolutely terrific novella, packing in wonderful ideas and images and a huge amount of humanity. Plus, what a lovely cover. I hope we will get a lot more of these, I wolfed it down and relished every sentence.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sherlock Holmes retelling I always wanted and now have
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An update of A Study in Scarlet in the author's Xuya universe with the part of Watson being played by a war-traumatized shipmind and with a female consulting detective.

There's not much more to it than that; de Bodard's Xuya universe continues to delight and most versions of Sherlock Holmes demonstrate how compelling the broad outlines of these characters are.
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taut, well-written, with excellent character work. It *is* a Holmes pastiche but it’s a lot more than that in practice. (In fact I think approaching it as a pastiche risks blinding a reader to the work’s own independent virtues, but the debt is there.)
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, stars-3-5

Not really sure what to think of this one... A re-telling of A Study in Scarlet sounded exactly like my kind of thing, especially since set in a different universe.

The world building was indeed fascinating, as was the notion of shipminds and mind altering concoctions to alleviate space-travel. The Shadow’s Child’s voice was engaging and made me want to find out what was its story. The mystery was a good one and introduced the detective, someone who is of course rude, eccentric, and yes, bril
The Captain
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .

The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:

1) I previously read some of the author’s short stories and loved her writing style;
2) It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and
3) One of the characters is a mindship . . .

This mindship, named The Shadow’s Child, is not just any ship. It was previously a military ship who physica
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. I loved the characters and I would like a dozen sequels.
My first foray into the "silkpunk" (which is to East Asian antiquity what steampunk is to Victorian England) genre, and I must say I loved it! "The Tea Master and the Detective" is a wonderful pastiche of Sherlock Holmes in space - which is this nerd's wet dream!

In a little less than a hundred pages, Aliette de Bobard created a fascinating world where powerful families rule, not unlike Imperial Japan, and ships have living minds. One such AIs - The Shadow's Child - has the shipmind version of PT
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.5 Stars
This is a unique science fiction novella that crosses a Sherlock-esque female character with sentient ship technology. I highly recommend drinking tea while reading this one.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Vietnamese-flavored Sherlock Holmes IN SPACE, except that Sherlock's a woman and Watson's a spaceship. This novella should have been right up my alley, but I didn't care for the style or the slow pace, and the characters just didn't gel with me. Not my thing, but maybe it's yours.

Also, damn it, one arrives at deductions by deducing, not by deducting.

E-arc from NetGalley and Subterranean Press.
Bogi Takács
Review coming soon IY"H. Can I get a sequel?

Source of the book: Bought with my own money
3.5 rounded up
I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this one, and I started reading it at 3 a.m. on a night when I was sitting up with a sick child. It's a sign of just how wonderful this story is that I was totally gripped and in love with it to the point where I hated setting it down when I was finally able to head to bed myself! I picked it up again first thing the next morning and it really saved me on an exhausted day.

I have read so many Sherlock Holmes retellings, but this one has genuinely become
anna (readingpeaches)
a sherlock holmes retelling where holmes is a woman & watson is a spaceship????? MY DICK IS HARD

honestly the worldbuilding is fucking amazing, i would die for those concepts
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the world building in this...the pan-Asian culture, the notion of mind-ships (although I can’t imagine giving birth to a child and then locking it in a tin can), the deep spaces, the Sherlock and Watson vibe. Made me want to hunt down more of the author’s stories.
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
4.5 stars. Really enjoyed this spare and elegant novella about a mindship with PTSD and the detective Long Chau solving a mystery together.
The Tea Master and the Detective is a sci-fi Sherlock Holmes retelling in which Holmes is a woman and Watson is a sentient spaceship.
With a premise and a cover like these, I had to read this – and not only it lived up to my expectations, it surpassed them.

The Tea Master and the Detective is a standalone novella set in Bodard’s Xuya universe; you do not need to have read the other short stories and novellas to read this one, but reading this made me want to. It was as beautiful as it was short an
Lis Carey
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf, fiction
Long Chau is a consulting detective, with a prickly, arrogant personality, and a drug addiction. Sound familiar? It strikes the right notes, but is far from just Holmes in space. The setting, space habitats in a mining belt, is rich and interesting. The shipmind Long Chau hires to assist her investigation, The Shadow's Child, has her own issues and insecurities, but also intelligence and insight. I hope de Bodard has more of their investigations in store for us.


I bought this novella.
Beth Cato
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

De Bodard's Xuya Universe explores a fantastically-fresh space opera future based on Vietnamese culture. In this new novella, to be released from Subterranean Press, she smartly created a new take on Sherlock Holmes. This is not an easy feat, especially when one considers that Watson (the point of view for the story, as appropriate) is a battle-traumatized mindship with a multitude of bots, and Holmes is a drugged-out woman detective with a pe
I love the malleability and the longevity of the Sherlock and Watson stories and relationship. Here, Watson is a mind ship suffering from trauma, while Sherlock is a somewhat abrasive woman who drugs herself to cope with her past. This story is short, but gives me a relationship I want to see much more of, and I love, love, the idea of a mind ship who creates tea blends tailored for an individual.
'The stuff of nightmares, and she wanted to make it into some kind of revelation?'

This was so good! I actually had no idea that this space opera series influenced by Vietnamese culture exists and then the fact that it explores China discovering the Americas before the West. There's a ton of short stories and a few novellas set in this world that I can't wait to get to eventually.

The Tea Master and the Detective does a superb job of gender-bending Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and honestly, I'm
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating universe and prickly, compelling characters. And one of them is a sentient starship. Worth the hour it takes to read, and then some.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3-3.5 stars.
Not bad but underwhelming. Bodard is a master of creative and deep settings. Her plots are workmanlike -- nothing too clever, but they get the job done. But her characterization really needs work.

So this is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche set in a kind of Pan-Asian SF future, with the Watson role being taken up by a spaceship AI. The setting is intriguing, and Bodard has beautiful language when describing it. But the mystery plot takes far too long to get going (I feel like we're halfway through the
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, earc
I received the ebook ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a review.

This is a Sherlock Holmes in space. Sherlock is a woman, and Watson is a spaceship (or, more precisely, the organic mind of one). When I first heard of this, I was quite interested to see the result, and I was right to be curious. The idea is fascinating, and it is mostly done justice. The worldbuilding in particular was engrossing and beautifully rendered; there are quite a few passages about the dee
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I am a speculative fiction author living in Paris, with a strong taste for history and mythology. Rice addict, tea addict and nước mắm addict.
My short fiction has appeared in various professional venues, and my Aztec fantasy series "Obsidian and Blood", Servant of the Underworld, is published by Angry Robot.
My next novel is The House of Shattered Wings, set in a devastated Paris where quasi-feud

Other books in the series

The Universe of Xuya (1 - 10 of 41 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)