An Unkindness of Ghosts
December 5, 2018 8:07 PM - by Rivers Solomon - Subscribe

Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot--if she's willing to sow the seeds of civil war.

An Unkindness of Ghosts was a finalist for the 30th Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, leading Rivers Solomon to be shortlisted for the 2018 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

"The HSS Matilda is a well-crafted world, and while the tyrannical regime of its leadership feels like a familiar dystopic trope, the diversity of the people who inhabit it—their various sexual and gender identities, physical abilities, and psychological burdens—is refreshingly visible and vital even as they face brutal discrimination for their differences."

"Solomon packs so many conflicts—chiefly concerning race, gender, and faith, but also patriarchy, education, mental illness, abortion, and more—into a relatively brief space that the story momentarily strains here and there to contain everything. The overall achievement, however, is stunning."
-Publishers Weekly

"Solomon’s evocation of this society is so sharply detailed and viscerally realized, the characters so closely observed, the individ­ual scenes so tightly structured, that the novel achieves surprising power and occasional bril­liance."
-Locus Mag

"With an Afrofuturist premise grounded in a queer neuroatypical worldview, An Unkindness of Ghosts is the post-Butler novel many of us have been waiting for."
-Strange Horizons

"I want to say about this book, its only imperfection is that it ended. But that might give the wrong impression: that it is a happy book, a book that makes a body feel good. It is not a happy book. I love it like I love food, I love it for what it did to me, I love it for having made me feel stronger and more sure in a nightmare world, but it is not a happy book. It is an antidote to poison."
posted by lesser weasel (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm still reading this myself, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far and wanted to get a Fanfare thread for it up and running.
posted by lesser weasel at 8:18 PM on December 5, 2018

OH. Right. I did finish this book back in January, and I enjoyed it. A solid 4/5 stars. I felt some of the pacing was a bit disjointed, that there wasn't much of a momentum for the overall plot; but it reads (and works) more as a biographical novel of a specific time in Aster's life on a generational ship hurtling through space towards their Promised Land. Like the NPR review linked above, I agree this was not a happy read, but it was a good read, and the queer and neurodivergent characters were very welcome.
posted by lesser weasel at 12:23 AM on March 15, 2019

Powerful book. Definitely not a happy one.
posted by kyrademon at 12:00 PM on September 18, 2022

« Older Movie: Die Hard 2...   |  Book: Every River Runs to Salt... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments