Ekaterina Sedia’s latest novel, The Alchemy of Stone, is one of those books that really deserves a full review but would be difficult to do that for without filling it with spoilers. The short version is that it is a steampunk novel about a clockwork automaton. As many other people have already said, the book asks all sorts of interesting questions about what it means to be human, and what it means to be a woman. Along the way it is also a very good story. The prose seems a little flat in places, but I’m not sure whether that’s a deliberate decision, a result of English being Sedia’s second language, or a result of my reading it immediately after Liberation. Aside from that, however, I have no complaints. It was a travesty that A Secret History of Moscow didn’t make the World Fantasy Awards short list this year. I expect to see The Alchemy of Stone shortlisted for both the Word Fantasy and Tiptree Awards.
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I agree. I’ve been trying to think for months about how to write the review (I’ve had the same problem with deciding how best to review Le Guin’s Lavinia), but I haven’t yet hit upon something that works for me that would capture the story’s importance well. I do know that it’ll make another shortlist…mine that I’ll write next month.
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