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 Post subject: The Lost Xuyan Bride
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:04 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:43 pm
Posts: 48
My review of this Interzone story appears in the latest issue of Mystery Scene:

Finally, to a world that doesn't exist. In Aliette de Bodard’s “The Lost Xuyan Bride” (Interzone, December 2007), the territory occupied by the USA in our universe is divided into Xuya (formerly a colony of China, and sitting to the west of the Rockies); the Aztec empire of Greater Mexica in the south; and the European-settled United States back east.
It’s interesting - and a tribute to the ruggedness of the template - that, having clearly invested a great deal of work and imagination in creating her alternative universe, de Bodard has chosen to launch it via a thoroughly traditional private eye story.
Brooks lives in Xuya, in voluntary exile from the US; voluntary in the sense that if he were to go home he’d face fifteen years in prison, for the crime of having had a half-Xuyan lover. To make sure that the PI’s melancholy and isolation are up to par, the author has killed off Mei-Lin before the story begins, so Brooks is all alone in a foreign, and not terribly welcoming, land.
The problems of a gumshoe are the same in all universes, it seems: his clients always lie to him, missing people never want to be found, and every case brings the investigator into closer contact than he would wish with organised crime and corrupt officialdom.
Obviously, the attraction of such a piece of fiction doesn't lie mainly in its crime plot; generally speaking, PI stories, set in this or any other corner of the multiverse, use setting and telling to delight us, rather than twists and clues. And de Bodard scores very highly on the “setting” front. I found her new reality quite fascinating and convincing. Often amusing, too, from the people smugglers who specialise in getting foreigners across the borders into Mexica, to the writer’s one major break with PI tradition: in her world, the cynical detective needn’t despair at the futility of fighting corruption. In her world, “the newscasters were betting on a strangling at the very least. Xuya did not joke with corruption of government officials.”


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:32 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:50 am
Posts: 158
Location: Paris, France
Thanks for the review, Mat!
(and I like killing off characters :D)

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