The Tea Master and the Detective
April 22, 2019 7:12 AM - by Aliette de Bodard - Subscribe

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appearance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.
posted by dinty_moore (9 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have much to say but I don't want to leave this book un-discussed because I remember it being surprisingly good.

It's a good book, you should read it. There is tea.

(I am now wondering why I never followed the next logical step of reading the rest of the author's stuff...)
posted by curious_yellow at 5:46 AM on April 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't know if I would have picked this for a Hugo list, although that might just be from having been underwhelmed in general this year. But it was a nice read, one that left me wanting more, a nice blend of familiar Sherlock Holmes inspired interactions and silkpunk space opera.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:24 AM on April 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Comment for future encouragement: I figure that some of the discussion isn't going to happen until later - maybe not until the voter's packets come out. People shouldn't feel pressured to comment right away, and there's no such thing as 'too late' for a fanfare discussion.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:31 AM on April 23, 2019

I just ended up describing this to my friend as Sherlock, only Sherlock is an older Asian woman and watson is a spaceship. I liked it, but I also got a little bit of whiplash from how quickly it ran through plot - I'd read more in this universe, but I'd also read a version of this story that was twice the length.

(I am now wondering why I never followed the next logical step of reading the rest of the author's stuff...)

I think of de Bodard as more of a short story writer and wasn't even sure if she had anything longer out, but turns that book coming out that I thought might have been the first novel is actually third in a series. She still has a lot of short stories online, though.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:46 PM on April 25, 2019

I enjoyed that, but I enjoy both Sherlock Holmes short stories and Iain M. Banks, so that doesn't seem too surprising. I am curious if any of her other stories are about these same characters. I'd like to read more about Long Chau in particular. I'm not usually much for short stories, but if she's done a set about these characters, I'd read that.

The tea brewing reminded me of traditional Chinese medicine, but I realize that I just hadn't heard of traditional Vietnamese medicine. (Went searching just now.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 3:15 PM on April 26, 2019

Yes, I thought the storyline of custom-tailored pharmaceuticals was one of the stronger background elements of the story, along with augmented reality rooms that are not dystopian.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:58 PM on April 26, 2019

I'm not usually much for short stories, but if she's done a set about these characters, I'd read that.

I don't think that she has anymore about these characters, but there are a lot more in the same universe - the Universe of Xuya. The whole series was also nominated for a Hugo this year.
posted by scorbet at 6:51 AM on May 2, 2019

I saw this post shortly after it appeared and was intrigued by the setting and premise. I finally started reading not this book, but On A Red Station Drifting, and I really like it. I bought The Tea Master and the Detective and The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, too, and I'll probably have both of them finished by next week.

One of the three Xuya books is going to be my pick for our sci-fi book club; I think everyone else will enjoy it. At the very least, they'll appreciate having a shorter read for once.
posted by heteronym at 7:33 PM on May 30, 2019

I thought this was fine. It's a quick read, engaging, and with an interesting premise. On the other hand, it didn't really come together to be more than that, for me.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:37 PM on June 18, 2019

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