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Navigational Entanglements, by Aliette de Bodard

Review copy provided by the publisher. Also the author is a friend.

How much can one novella hold? Aliette has attempted to find out. Navigational Entanglements has space battles with tentacled space aliens! It has political intrigue among several clans of humans with shifting alliances! It has personal growth! And both leading into and following from that personal growth it has a love story! This is a novella, pals. It’s a novella that is not set in default-generi-white-American-space, so there’s cultural stuff to cue in as well. And it never feels rushed or crowded!

Việt Nhi would rather not be sent on this mission, and she has no problem saying so. She’s introverted and blunt, a good problem-solver, not a politician–and this mission is substantially politics. But when one of the members of the mission dies, Nhi has to discover ways to apply her problem-solving ability to the highly political situation–before the invisible tentacles of the alien Tangler cause more casualties. All while dealing with fragile new feelings for her teammate Hạc Cúc–who’s in just as much danger as Nhi if things go badly. The plot is fully character-driven and never stops until the triumphant end. What a rush of a novella.

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