This Is How You Lose the Time War

English language

Published April 16, 2020

ISBN:
9781534430990

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4 stars (1 review)

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a 2019 science fiction epistolary novel by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. It was first published by Simon and Schuster. It won the BSFA Award for Best Shorter Fiction, the Nebula Award for Best Novella of 2019 and the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novella.

2 editions

Weird and beautiful but not always up to its own ambition

4 stars

The letters that make up about half of this book are gorgeously written, and I love the story they tell. The basic idea of the time war is clever, and the descriptions of placetimes the characters find themselves in evocative, sometimes reminiscent of Calvino's Invisible Cities. I devoured this book in a few days.

And yet... something about it felt a little thin or hollow behind its fireworks. I think it was a good artistic choice to leave all technical details out, but I couldn't help but get hung up on the time paradoxes. Not that it's the authors' responsibility to necessarily avoid or solve them, but for me personally they intruded on the suspension of disbelief.