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Monday, January 17, 2022

Book review: Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley

 


Book links: AmazonGoodreads

Other books by the author: 

GREENSMITH - FBC Review - Amazon
THE LOOSENING SKIN—FBC Review —Amazon 
THE BEAUTY - FBC REVIEW - Amazon

AUTHOR INFO: Aliya Whiteley writes across many different genres and lengths. Her first published full-length novels, Three Things About Me and Light Reading, were comic crime adventures. Her 2014 SF-horror novella The Beauty was shortlisted for the James Tiptree and Shirley Jackson awards. The following historical-SF novella, The Arrival of Missives, was a finalist for the Campbell Memorial Award, and her noir novel The Loosening Skin was shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award.

She has written over one hundred published short stories that have appeared in Interzone, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Black Static, Strange Horizons, The Dark, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and The Guardian, as well as in anthologies such as Unsung Stories’ 2084 and Lonely Planet’s Better than Fiction.

She also writes a regular non-fiction column for Interzone

Publisher: Solaris (March 16, 2021) Length: 300 pages Cover art: Dominic Forbes



So, Skyward Inn. It's weird. And character-driven. It combines science fiction with weird fiction and personal drama. Jem runs a pub in a region of Britain disconnected from the modern world. There's a spaceport in the area, but no one uses it. 

Before coming here, Jem spent ten years on the planet Qita with a Qitan named Isley. Her story unfolds slowly and revolves around the consequences of humanity's contact with aliens. She may also be serving a psychedelic brew at her inn. 

Either way, Jem's family and emotional life is complicated. Her son, Fosse, feels alienated. In addition, the people of the Western Protectorate are suffering from a strange illness, and it turns out that the story of Qitan's surrender to humans is different than generally believed.

Interplanetary travel is possible because humanity has discovered a wormhole. After discovering Qita, a coalition of countries decided to conquer it. Only Britain has vowed to stay out of the war and live a rural life without modern technology. The residents of the Protectorate, including Jem and Isley, want to keep out of the war, but their decision is tested when a desperate visitor from Isley's past shows up one night.

Skyward Inn isn't the fastest book around. Nor is it the easiest to get into. But those who've read Whiteley's works before will appreciate the subtle surrealism, the quirkiness, and the family drama. I love her writing style, but I must confess that I almost lost interest in the story. So look elsewhere if you're looking for a fast-paced, plot-driven story. But if you're more into literary and philosophical themes, you'll love Skyward Inn. Ultimately, it's a thoughtful book about how we as humans relate to each other and come together or break apart. 


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