Author: Aliette de Bodard
Title: The Tea Master and the Detective
Series: The Universe of Xuja
Genre: Sci-fi, Detective
Rate: 5-5 | Goodreads
Sometimes the title of the book intrigues me so much that I feel I must read it. “The Tea Master and the Detective” didn’t tempt me by the description, yet still I had to. Sci-fi, tea, detectives. I had to.
About: Shadow’s Child is a Mindship. A shipmaiden born and raised to be put into a ship’s heartroom, where she’d eternally fuse with the ship, and the ship would become her body and she – the mind, and the heart. Revered and honored these mindships carried people through Deep space, the Unreality, be it military purposes or just passengers. Yet during the Uprising Shadow’s Child got into a trap that left her whole crew dead, floating in her cold hallways, with her unable to do anything else than drift there and wait, in hopes she’ll die, or someone will come rescue her.
Today Shadow’s Child doesn’t even want to think of Deep Spaces. In her hologram form she lives in a rented closet of a space, where she brews certain tea blends. Most her customers are travelers who need to go through Deep Space. They want to be knocked out, sleep through it, for even the toughest minds get rendered whimpering in fetal position until the voyage is over. Unreality will do that to you. But not Long Chau, the woman with the decorative name, who introduced herself as a detective writing a study on decomposition in Deep Space. She needs Shadow’s Child to not only make her a brew that’d keep her functioning in the Unreality. She also wants the shipmind to take her up there.
Mine: In less than a hundred pages my mind almost had a meltdown with the unfathomable wonders. Can you even imagine it? Because I certainly struggle to. A person of flesh and bone, becoming a ship, fully. She can FEEL footsteps in her halls. And then, her in holographic form? She could be anything, but she chooses to remain a ship. Can you imagine walking down a corridor with a giant holographic ship by your side, talking to you? And as for the detective plot line, it was so beautifully Sherlockian, I really loved it. Long Chau is a drug user, her intellect comes off as arrogance, and she’s rude, because she’s blunt. Not to mention moral flexibility and well hidden past.
It’s a mind blowing short book. I’m tempted to read other ones too, even if they’re story-wise unrelated, merely set in the same universe. This one gets 5 out of 5.