A Half-Built Garden

352 pages

English language

Published July 4, 2022 by Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom.

ISBN:
978-1-250-21098-2
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4 stars (35 reviews)

5 editions

Review of 'A Half-Built Garden' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Really excellent SciFi, described by the author as "diaperpunk" but I'd argue also in the vein of solarpunk. I have some issues with the central premise seemingly involving a forced conflict (where no side sems to entertain a compromise until the end). But it's thoughtful and unique and makes you think in the ways good SciFi does, and therefore still well worth the read.

Very interesting book, which I don't read as optimistic at all

No rating

Content warning Major plot and worldbuilding spoilers

Great Concepts; Poor Story

3 stars

I am torn on this book. The author has so many wonderful ideas and the book is completely worth reading for that alone. On the other side though, I feel she did not do a very good job of building a story to showcase those ideas. At times it felt like the ideas were running the entire narrative, causing characters to behave oddly out of pattern just to move the story on to the next idea. Reading this often felt like a grind to get to the end, but I kept turning pages because the concepts were so engaging.

Good ideas inhabiting a challenging story

3 stars

I wanted to like the story but had trouble with the implausibilities. Interesting themes like algorithmic governance, ecological integration with technology, and collaborative family redefinition kept me going and were ultimately more rewarding.

Queer Jewish first contact story

5 stars

A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys is a beautiful, extremely Jewish, super queer story about a diverse future world facing first contact not as an alien invasion, but as something possibly more threatening: a well-intentioned helper, certain in their knowledge of what help is needed before ever setting foot on the planet.

what follows is high stakes negotiations, not just with the aliens, but also between different factions of humans (the watersheds, the corporations and the old state powers) and within factions and families. the watersheds might be healing planet earth, but the corporations still haven't learned that infinite growth isn't possible, and they want everything the new visitors are offering (and more)

I won't spoil the story, but you should read this if you like complicated family dynamics that remind you of your own, complex characters with flaws and passions, weird (and interesting) gender stuff, fraught dinner parties (including …

A Half-Built Garden

5 stars

Content warning minor spoilers

I want to see more of this Garden

4 stars

I've found myself reading more Climate Fiction recently, not because I've been searching it out, I don't think, but because it's so much on everyone's mind that more is getting published. In any case, I would not have expected to enjoy it, but I've had a recent run of "climate fiction" that I would describe as optimistic. Possibly, it used to be that it felt like the urgent agenda re: The Climate was convincing everyone it was really that bad, but now it feels like the urgent agenda is convincing people that there is something to be done about it.

In any case, A Half Built Garden falls into the latter camp, but it is also a first contact story, which I am predisposed to like. In this story, the Earth is covered by autonomous but interconnected "Dandelion Networks" who work to restore Earth's ecology and strictly measure out their …

uneven for me

3 stars

Does a lovely job portraying a decentralized, nerdy, queer, ecologically-attentive near future both recognizable and made deeply alien through first-contact... even as a semi-utopic didactic depiction, I wish it were a better story, the stakes and conflicts wobble erratically between gray and absolute to an overall weaker place.

A Half-Built Garden

4 stars

There's really a lot to like here for fans of Story of Your Life/Arrival, Becky Chambers, and/or Adrian Tchaikovsky. I particularly like this take on the nearish future of technology for communication and community decision-making.

I felt like it got a bit preachy at times around the subject of distributed consensus governance, but this is a minor, subjective nitpick.

Queer solarpunk first-contact sci-fi

4 stars

As the title says: queer solarpunk first-contact sci-fi!

Recommended for anyone that liked:

  • the first book of the Wanderer series by Becky Chambers
  • for anyone solar-curious
  • for nerds with kids
  • for nerds without kids
  • for fans of peer-to-peer mesh networks (yes, really)

It definitely has some weird bits, not necessarily in a negative sense. I enjoyed this a bunch and kept telling people about during my travels in the past weeks—so that's probably a better recommendation indicator than anything!

The author even coined a potential subgenre in describing the book: diaperpunk!

Review of 'Half-Built Garden' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I enjoy a good first contact story. In this version aliens touch down in the Chesapeake Watershed. A woman is sent out in the middle of the night to monitor some new contaminants and stumbles across the spaceshipI quite enjoyed the world building in this story. In this version of the 2080s, river networks are the organizing basis for large populations of ecologically minded people who strive to live in cooperation while actively working to heal the Earth. Basically, take everything that would make conservative Americans start to hyperventilate and make a society out of it. I loved it. Can we have that please?
The people at the center of this story are a Jewish polyamorous queer couple with an infant who have just set up a household with two co-parents who have a toddler. They are just starting to work out how their household will function when they suddenly …

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