One of the most achingly beautiful and intensely romantic books I've ever read — totally unexpected and deeply, lyrically human, right in the middle of a science fiction story about two far-future agents on opposing sides — one a technotopia, the other an organic hive. If these two opposites can fall in love, then there is hope for all of us. Recommended By Warren B., Powells.com
This fed and watered my brittle cynic's heart. A desperately romantic and sensual exchange of letters between two inhuman mortal enemies while they wage war on each other as agents for opposing, time-traveling espionage entities. Abstract, poetic, and deeply emotive — peak sapphic yearning. Recommended By SitaraG, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019
Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
In the ashes of a dying world, Red finds a letter marked “Burn before reading. Signed, Blue.”
So begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents in a war that stretches through the vast reaches of time and space.
Red belongs to the Agency, a post-singularity technotopia. Blue belongs to Garden, a single vast consciousness embedded in all organic matter. Their pasts are bloody and their futures mutually exclusive. They have nothing in common—save that they’re the best, and they’re alone.
Now what began as a battlefield boast grows into a dangerous game, one both Red and Blue are determined to win. Because winning’s what you do in war. Isn’t it?
A tour de force collaboration from two powerhouse writers that spans the whole of time and space.
"This book has it all: treachery and love, lyricism and gritty action, existential crisis and space-opera scope, not to mention time traveling superagents. Gladstone's and El-Mohtar's debut collaboration is a fireworks display from two very talented storytellers." Madeline Miller, award-winning author of Circe
"If Iain M. Banks and Gerard Manley Hopkins had ever been able to collaborate on a science fiction project, well, it wouldn't be half as much fun as this novella. There is all the pleasure of a long series, and all the details of a much larger world, presented in miniature here." Kelly Link
"[An] exquisitely crafted tale…. Part epistolary romance, part mind-blowing science fiction adventure, this dazzling story unfolds bit by bit, revealing layers of meaning as it plays with cause and effect, wildly imaginative technologies, and increasingly intricate wordplay… This short novel warrants multiple readings to fully unlock its complexities." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
About the Author
Amal El-Mohtar is an award-winning author, editor, and critic. Her short story "Seasons of Glass and Iron" won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards and was a finalist for the World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Aurora, and Eugie Foster awards. She is the author of The Honey Month
, a collection of poetry and prose written to the taste of twenty-eight different kinds of honey, and contributes criticism to NPR Books and The New York Times
. Her fiction has most recently appeared on Tor.com and Uncanny Magazine
, and in anthologies such as The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories
and The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales
. She is presently pursuing a PhD at Carleton University and teaches creative writing at the University of Ottawa. She can be found online at @Tithenai.
Max Gladstone is the author of the Hugo-nominated Craft Sequence, which Patrick Rothfuss called "stupefyingly good." The sixth book, Ruin of Angels, was released this September. Max's interactive mobile game Choice of the Deathless was nominated for the XYZZY Award, and his critically acclaimed short fiction has appeared on Tor.com and in Uncanny Magazine, and in anthologies such as XO Orpheus: Fifty New Myths and The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales. John Crowley described Max as "a true star of twenty first century fantasy." Max has sung in Carnegie Hall and was once thrown from a horse in Mongolia.