There may be no genre I enjoy as much, but can be so disappointed by, as science fiction. Any genre has its good and bad, of course, but I find the best science fiction of certain stripes really strikes a chord with me–Blade Runner is my favourite movie–while the worst of it is particularly bad.
As such, finding science fiction I like, for books in particular, can sometimes be a tall order. It’s not a snooty thing, I don’t think, so much as finding a sub-(sub-)genre that’s done in such a way that it clicks for me.
All that said, I’m finding This Is How You Lose The Time War is riding that line a bit but is more appealing than not.
The writing is more dense than my usual fare, which is causing me to read (and sometimes re-read) phrasing that’s so richly described that at times it’s almost too much for me to parse. I’m not familiar with the writing of either author, so I’m unclear if it’s written this way to create a vibe for the narrative or if that’s just how they write.
I’m intrigued enough by the story to stick with it, though. The reader is introduced to Red and Blue, two time-traveling agents of opposing and drastically different factions, who go “upthread” and “downthread” among the various “strands” of timelines in order to gain advantages that would eventually secure the dominance of their respective forces. But each manages to often undermine the work of the other again and again, like an ongoing game of chess.
In an unexpected twist, Red receives a letter from Blue; a highly abnormal move to communicate boredom with their game and expressing genuine, if guarded, interest in opening up and wanting to learn more about Red. So begins a cross-strand, cross-millennia exchange of increasingly personal letters between the two rivals, each passed to the other in such obscure and covert ways that there’s no chance of the letters being seen by others.
And they find, these operatives of warring enemy factions, that they have shared interests, shared curiosity about the other, and are forming a unique (if illicit) connection.
I’m not quite half-way through the book, in no small part because the writing doesn’t allow for me to get far if I’m at all sleepy or otherwise distracted from giving it my full attention, and both of those are happening a lot during the pandemic. But I’m looking forward to see how it ends.