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Cover of An Unkindness of Ghosts.

An Unkindness of Ghosts

author: Rivers Solomon (2017)
date read: 2018-10-18
pages: 351
lists: scifi
rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

An Unkindness of Ghosts is so good that it seems implausible that it is Rivers Solomon‘s debut novel. I mean, I’m very much into generational starships as a literary setting, but this is the best usage of the genre I’ve encountered so far (it nearly reached a five-star rating for me). We find ourselves on a generational starship, over 200 years into the journey away from a dead planet Earth. People are organized by deck, with the upper decks being the ruling class with a Sovereign, and the lower decks being the ill-treated worker class under guard. But instead of being as simplistic and YA-y as this sounds, An Unkindness of Ghosts goes deeper.

Each deck has its own variations in language, and its own variation in culture and upbringing. It starts at words, it ends at default pronouns and religous views. Decks are also race-coded, with the ruling class being white and the lower decks being dark-skinned. The acts of both purposeful and casual violence were so believable that they were very disturbing, and made the various reactions of the main cast very believable. The main cast features a guy with strong gender dysphoria, a woman with heavy psychoses, and the protagonist who is a woman (probably enby, though) on the autism spectrum. All characters experience terrible violence over the course of their lives, and seeing them deal with it was realistic and heart-wrenching. The titular ghosts of this book will haunt me for some time.


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