Marzie's Reviews > The Vela

The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee
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it was amazing
bookshelves: arc-publisher

The Vela follows in the footsteps of a number of recent Serial Box series, with a group of terrific writers authoring episodes of a series that releases week after week. If you aren't familiar with Serial Box, the platform allows you to read as well as listen to serialized books that are then occasionally bound into a print version. While Amazon's Kindle platform explored a similar concept, Serial Box is unique in that it allows you to listen, as well as read. As episodes release, just like on TV, you can get a quick recap, to make sure you're all caught up with the story. What kind of stories does Serial Box offer? Serial Box is a platform that is exploring classics, like Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White, and cutting edge sci-fi and fantasy. I started reading Serial Box productions a while back because some of my favorite writers of sci-fi and fantasy have written for Serial Box, including Max Gladstone, Amal El-Mohtar, Mur Lafferty (check out Bookburners, a fantastic fantasy in which a detective joins a Vatican-backed black ops anti-magic group that tracks down black magic "trapped" in ancient texts) Sarah Gailey ( The Fisher of Bones), Fran Wilde ( The Witch Who Came in from the Cold), Malka Older ( Ninth Step Station), and now, in The Vela three of my favorite sci-fi writers, Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, and Rivers Solomon, are writing in concert with S. L. Huang Zero Sum Game, a writer I am now definitely planning to read!

As a space opera, The Vela is very much in keeping with themes examined by the three writers whose works I have read- Lee, Chambers and Solomon. We meet Asala, a deaf Hypatian refugee who uses audio implants to aid her in her work as a mercenary, searching for a missing refugee vessel, The Vela. Niko av Ekrem is the non-binary (they/their) son of the president of Khayyam, a planet that is trying to deal with a refugee crisis stemming from the mass exodus of people from a solar system with a dying sun. We also meet General Cynwrig a visiting dignitary from the planet Gan-De, whose approach to refugees is not quite as charitable. The Vela explores tough topics in looking at environmental disaster and refugee crises. The authors manage to deftly capture the effects of mass migration and cultural displacement even in simple ways like Asala's reminiscing about the foods, inflection, scents and sounds of her home world of Hypatia, which has fallen into a dangerous and endless winter. And reader, they really had me at the dangerous gravitational perturbations of wormholes.

This was a highly enjoyable yet thought provoking read, with passages that are quite lyrical in nature ("My heart collects the ice of years, stored to melt when next we meet.") Readers concerned about any sense of disjuncture from one installment to the next with different writers will find that the story flows smoothly. There are no easy answers here however, no one rousing battle that will solve all the problems. This is a rich story that gives us diverse characters, cultures, and realistic cultural frictions that arise from refugee issues. It was a rewarding read.

The first episode of The Vela releases on March 6th. Look for it at

I received a Digital Review Copy of the full serial directly from SerialBox in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

January 15, 2019 – Shelved
January 15, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
March 1, 2019 – Started Reading
March 2, 2019 – Finished Reading
March 3, 2019 – Shelved as: arc-publisher

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