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Not For Use In Navigation: Thirteen Stories

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The bell, the lantern, the witching hour…

A refugee arrives from elsewhere in time; a generation ship makes landfall; a vast galactic empire settles to the business of government. Tarot readers find hope in the cards; witches live through the aftermath of war; and Indian mothers think it’s high time you were married. Here are thirteen stories of love and queerness, hope a
Kindle Edition, 287 pages
Published March 24th 2019
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K.J. Charles
Tremendous. A haunting and beautifully written collection of shorts. There's a lot of variety here (several stories set in a bleak, magical post-WW1 England that I'd love to read more about, several based on fables of Akbar if Akbar was a star-wars-fighting woman general, a woman getting married helped out by her sister the spaceship AI, and an awful lot more).

A few observations rather than going through each story: There's so much glorious humanity. In the sense of diversity--there's all sorts
Skye Kilaen
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING collection of scifi and fantasy short stories, and I'm not even a person who's drawn to short stories. I don't know how one person invents this many distinct worlds and characters in their head. I'm in awe. So queer and so rooted in POC experience, too, a real treasure. Iona Datt Sharma has become an auto-buy author for me, and if you haven't read any of their work before, this might be a great place to start. ...more
Iona Datt Sharma is one of my very favorite short story authors in the world, and this is her first collection of short f/sf stories for adults. I was lucky enough to get an ARC, but when Iona first sent it to me, I wondered if I should skip ahead to any stories I hadn’t already read (since I’ve devoured most of her work online). Instead, I decided to read it straight through from the beginning – and at the end of the first story (which I’d read before and loved!) I was blown away all over again ...more
Fred Langridge
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved these stories. I love how quickly and gently Iona Datt Sharma pulls me into a world - and how familiar these worlds are. Each is one step away from here, in a different direction: into space; into a world where writing has more tangible magic, or another where technology is as bound up with magic as it is with electricity. All worlds where queerness is unremarkable.

I especially love the Akbar and Birbal stories, that tread well-known and beloved paths through familiar but completely ali
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
Rep: wlw mcs, mlm mcs, jewish mc, nonbinary character, genderfluid character, character with anxiety/depression(?), wheelchair-using character, non-white characters (Vietnamese, Indian, Black, Latina)
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, sff-h
Lovely stories!

I love this collection! Data Sharma is a phenomenal writer, and I particularly like how hopeful and compassionate these stories are!
Freya Marske
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bittersweet, funny, devastating, thoughtful and beautiful. Iona's a friend and I will never stop yelling about their talent. This collection of stories is a perfect introduction to their knack for innocently serving you a quiet tale about people building community in the wake of loss, and then turning around and tugging your guts out with a silver hook of truth and language. ...more
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, earc
I received an e-ARC of this collection of short stories from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

Before reading this collection, my familiarity with Datt Sharma's fiction was based on having read their excellent contribution to The Underwater Ballroom Society and a story or two read online (most recently: "Refugee...", also contained in this collection). These stories made me profoundly curious and gave me exceedingly high expectations; based on "Not for Use in Navigation", I intend to
This is a remarkable collection of sff short stories. Some I had read before elsewhere, some were new to me. The ones that were rereads resonated with even more depth when revisited, the ones I read for the first time I look forward to revisiting in future. There is an intermingling of melancholy and hope in all of Iona Datt Sharma’s writing that touches my heartstrings with a note that keeps resonating long after I’ve but their stories down, a sharp-eyed clarity about the terribleness of the wo ...more
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
I probably should have taken Not for Use in Navigation at face value and just, you know, not use it. But then again there weren’t that many recent science fiction digital books available at the libraries and this one did seem interesting. Ok, to be fair, it was interesting in its own way, it just didn’t really interest this reader. It checks all the boxes modern fiction strives for, it’s at least as woke as its author (they pronoun) and going by name of Indian origins, in that the characters in ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review)

It’s honestly a gift to be able to write short stories that still have such a depth and richness behind them. Each piece is carefully and precisely crafted, but with a wisdom and colour that’s really moving. Often these stories (or parables, or word paintings) have a sense of something lost. It’s a wry and sometimes dark grin at the human condition, and yet it’s often oddly satisfying.

Iona has teased out the subtleties of life,
I really want Iona Datt Sharma to write a full length novel! Each one of these stories feels like a few chapters from the middle of something magical. The characters are vibrant and the worlds are complex. The stories are melancholy at times, but without being depressing. They leave the reader with lots of questions to think about.

You should also all go read the novella Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night, which Datt Sharma co-wrote and which is one of the best things I’ve read in quite a
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Vivid, lyrical and a little heart-wrenching in ways. The second-to-last story in here is a particular standout, although I also loved the one about the alien city being jointly populated by humanity and others and living together. (Also, as expected, all of this is beautifully and so satisfyingly queer, ahhhh.)
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, gender, poc, queer, sff
A wonderful short story collection. Highly recommended to anyone who wants diverse, imaginative sf. I particularly love “Quarter Days” and the other stories set in that universe. I look forward to more!
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful collection of short stories. Refreshing perspective, inventive magic (I love the longer Salt story at the end). Several stories have roots in Indian and South Asian stories. I'd happily rec this to anyone looking for SF/F reads. ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I knew going into this collection that I would love it - I’d read most of the stories before - but considering them all together like this really sheds new light on them and illuminates the things they all share.

These stories are kind - which is not to say that they’re twee, or easy. They’re hopeful, bittersweet, queer. They’re about people and places and the ways they’re interconnected, and they're full of characters whose concerns and perspectives feel intimately real. They’re about doing what
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The collection overall is lovely; it’s a woven mix of thoughtful, sweet and amusing stories that all vary wildly, but all have a thread of wonderful characters and detail-orientated worldbuilding running through them.

Light, Like A Candle Flame; actually, this story was my least favourite! It’s a sweet story about a council member trying to make changes aboard a ship, but it felt a bit too abstract for me to get into. However, the second story, Death Comes To Elisha, tugged me back into the colle
Caroline Mersey
One of the joys of reviewing books is coming across exciting, new writing.  Iona Datt Sharma was kind enough to send me a review copy of their short story collection Not For Use in Navigation.  It is full of wit, staggeringly subtle insight and exquisite prose. These are stories that foreground queer and genderfluid people, and focus on liminal spaces.

At EasterCon I was on a panel with Charlie Stross.  We were talking about how rarely stories deal with those behind the scenes people who in real
David H.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I first learned of this book from Liz Bourke's Sleeps with Monsters column at, and I just loved the cover.

It's always disconcerting when I decide to read a collection by an author I've never read before as I simply have no idea what to expect from their writing.

Despite the subtitle of "Thirteen Stories," the book actually has 16 stories (I'm assuming the author considers the four Akbar and Birbal stories to be one story, which would make the math add up), and a full third of the book is
Some of the stories are excellent, almost sublime in their perfect grasp of atmosphere and melancholy and a certain kind of sadness. But I have to say that although I read this slowly over about four weeks, a lot of the stories feel really similar in terms of theme and tone, even characters. Sometimes short story collection are extremely varied: this felt more like the author was writing the same story over and over until one time they will achieve the perfect variation of it. At this point it j ...more
Katie (kt-recs)
This is possibly my favourite short story collection to date. Each story feels so grounded in real parameters, slices of a larger whole. I particularly enjoyed the take on Akbar and Birbal and "Eight Cities", because I love folklore and solarpunk, and I absolutely love the way queerness and culture are wound into each story. The final two stories jarred me a little, as their formats stand out from the others; "Quarter Days" is much longer and "Refugee, or, a nine-item representative inventory of ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Utterly, utterly beautiful stories. Each was wonderfully crafted and I loved the way the author returned to some characters multiple times.

My absolute favourites were Flightcraft for the imagination it showed and for the feelings it inspired and especially Quarter Days. The story of Grace, Ned and Thanet was so moving, in such a short space of time I felt so engaged in their relationship and cared so much for their fates.

Wonderful, wonderful storytelling.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed these stories so much! Some more than others, I want to know everything about the world of Salt and it's magic system. So much positive queerness and every time I dipped back into the book I came away feeling positive. Would recommend ...more
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
The only reason I didn't give this five stars is because I really wanted more background (and continuation) of some of the stories. Beautifully written! ...more
I reviewed this for Lady Business but omg I cried. It's so hopeful and warm, even when it's about serious things. I love it. ...more
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I'm a British-Indian writer of speculative literary fiction. My debut short story collection, NOT FOR USE IN NAVIGATION, was released in March 2019.

FYI, my surname is "Datt Sharma", two words, but books listed on Goodreads under "Iona Sharma" are also me.

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