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On a Red Station, Drifting

Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
Length: 5 hrs and 22 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 decimated family, Station Mistress Quyen and the Honoured Ancestress struggle to keep their relatives united and safe. 

What Quyen does not know is that the Honoured Ancestress herself is faltering, her mind eaten away by a disease that seems to have no cure; and that the future of the station itself might hang in the balance....

©2013 Aliette de Bodard (P)2019 Tantor

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Great world-building and characters, volume issues

I liked this story. The ideas were new and exciting. I would have loved to see more world building and get the know the characters more.

The only issue I had with this was the differences in volume. The narrator does a great job with expressing emotions but the volume gets way too loud when switching from narrating a scene or thoughts to voicing dialogue. The dialogue volume was so loud I would have to turn it down but then I couldn't hear the regular narrations quipped between speaking.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An SF novella with deep world-building

Dai Viet Empire is at war and it shows in lack of resources and because many of the citizens are away, at war. However, this isn’t a war story. This isn’t an adventure story, either. It’s about politics and two strong women clashing because they resent their place in society and each other.

Linh was the magistrate of the 23rd planet. When war came to that planet, Linh’s assistant managed to convince her to flee. She’s come of Prosper Station where she has kin. She’s used to being a in control and having power; now she must be humble and beg for shelter. That’s very frustrating for her. She has six ancestor’s voices in her mem-implants. They constantly interfere in her thoughts and she must be respectful of them. Linh is also full of regret, especially when she hears what happened at the planet after she left.

The Mistress of Prosper Station is Quyen. However, she feels that she’s only a minor official because she didn’t pass her examinations. In her arranged marriage, she’s the lesser partner who isn’t as educated as her greater partner. However, war has taken many of the greater partners away and now Quyen has found herself in a position which she hardly could dream of. (In this universe, gender has no bearing of if a person is a lesser or greater partner – only if they’ve passed the examinations.) Quyen resents Linh’s intrusion and her station in life, so she gives Linh the chore of teaching young women. Linh, in turn, know that this is a slight and resents Quyen.

However, the station is run by an AI, Honored Ancestress, and it is failing. Also, Quyen’s kinsman (by marriage) has sold (or otherwise lost) his memory implants. One of the “people” in the implants comes from Quyen’s family and now it’s her job to retrieve them.

This is a complex world where familial relationships are honored above anything else. Many people interact very formally. For example, children shouldn’t criticize their parents, not matter what the parents have done. Also, kin is expected to help each other, no matter what. While others find comfort in that, and also in the AI who watches over everyone, others find it very confining. Also, the culture is very class oriented, although they don’t really call it class.

I felt the ending was a bit abrupt.

Linh and Quyen are both flawed people but very human because of their flaws. The world was fascinating and I’m happy to read more about it.

The narrator was great and fit the characters well.