This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.Except discovery of their bond would be death for...

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Title:This Is How You Lose the Time War
Author:Amal El-Mohtar
Rating:
Edition Language:English

This Is How You Lose the Time War Reviews

  • Acqua

    4.5 stars

    is a novella about

    . It's beautiful and lyrical and heartbreaking; it's all of these things and I loved its ending so much that I don't feel like I can do this story justice with a review. Just know that, while

    , calling it that feels almost reductive.

    It follows two entities, "Red" and "Blue", both presenting as women but who

    4.5 stars

    is a novella about

    . It's beautiful and lyrical and heartbreaking; it's all of these things and I loved its ending so much that I don't feel like I can do this story justice with a review. Just know that, while

    , calling it that feels almost reductive.

    It follows two entities, "Red" and "Blue", both presenting as women but who don't strictly adhere to our definition of what a human is, and there's a time war. If you're the kind of person who needs to know the reasons and the workings of everything, this won't work for you;

    .

    The writing in here will be polarizing. At times, I hated it: it was pretentious, and it made me feel like

    . But in other places it was beautiful and powerful, and the foreshadowing was woven into this story effortlessly - which only makes sense in something about braiding time.

    And you know what else makes sense? That

    .

    In one of my updates, I said that I wondered whether this started out as a short story. If you've ever read some short fiction on online magazines, you probably recognize the

    , and I mean, if I'm going to read something that short, I want something really pretty that will make me feel and won't need that much background to do so. I wouldn't have minded if the authors had toned all of this here a bit down, however.

  • unknown

    A time travel romance with teeth sharp enough to tear out your still-beating heart.

  • Bradley

    Damn excellent SF novella. I won't have any problems nominating this for next year's Hugo. It's poetical, yo. Not only poetical, but delighfully unforced in its romance... even as the time war rages between heavy tech and heavy biopunk up and down multiple timelines in a game of Go! that stretches to near-infinity.

    Wait. Did I say romance? Yep. Hard SF romance, so light and deft in its hardcore science it becomes a whirlwind of ambiance designed only to paint glorious pictures and denude us in

    Damn excellent SF novella. I won't have any problems nominating this for next year's Hugo. It's poetical, yo. Not only poetical, but delighfully unforced in its romance... even as the time war rages between heavy tech and heavy biopunk up and down multiple timelines in a game of Go! that stretches to near-infinity.

    Wait. Did I say romance? Yep. Hard SF romance, so light and deft in its hardcore science it becomes a whirlwind of ambiance designed only to paint glorious pictures and denude us in playful taste, hunger, and excitement.

    The novella is mostly written in epistolary format, which I love, and it evokes so much crazy longing between these two enemies that it is pretty obvious that they have completely fallen for each other by the third exchange. :) Even if they're plotting their opposite's death by strange and subtle threads and means up and down the timelines. :)

    Gloriously so, the tastes of history are obscure and rich. The format of the letters, even more so. Written in plants, seeds, only readable through taste or stings. Scorched space battlements and desolate beaches, dinosaurs and playful birds. Did I say this was poetry? Poetry as prose? The hunger is palpable, the romance, desperate.

    Sure, they're post-human women, but the shape doesn't matter when they take whatever shapes they like. The feeling is everything.

    So how does it turn out? Is it a tragedy? I will not say. But I feel lighter than air after reading this. It deserves a careful read. An engrossing read. A consuming read. :)

  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

    This is a book so beautifully written and perfectly conceived that I know any words I write about it will pale in comparison. If you want an ambitious, complex, utterly unique romeo and juliet f/f romance set amidst a centuries long time war (and how could you not want that?) then this is the book for you. I want this entire book tattooed over every inch of my body so that I can remember every single word forever.

  • ☙ percy ❧

    utterly impossibly, this book managed to exceed my expectations. do not take me lightly when i say i expected this book to be a masterpiece. and it was

    literary genre fiction is something so rare it's sometimes considered impossible.

    laughs in the face of critics who disparage science-fiction, and it is not literary and poetic

    being science-fiction, it is entirely both.

    utterly impossibly, this book managed to exceed my expectations. do not take me lightly when i say i expected this book to be a masterpiece. and it was

    literary genre fiction is something so rare it's sometimes considered impossible.

    laughs in the face of critics who disparage science-fiction, and it is not literary and poetic

    being science-fiction, it is entirely both.

    i feel like this book has turned me inside out, leaving my nervous system exposed like wires, raw and aching. i am going to carry this book with me for a very long time, like these characters carry their letters.

    --

    (pre-review comment:)

    first attracted to this because my dr who ass saw the words Time War and fucking gravitated to it like a moth to a flame

    and i thought it was some sort of literary metaphor but NOPE there's ACTUAL TIME TRAVEL and also SAPPHIC WOMEN in it, and (i think) an enemies to lovers trope??? literally yeet this straight into my letter box pleez

  • Spencer Orey

    Really dense time-travel love story novella packed with wonderful writing that focuses on sensory experiences.

    There were parts that felt like filler, included in the book more for the beauty of language than anything to do with the plot or story. The episodic structure also made it hard for me to keep focused, since the real story seemed to be unfolding in the letters that punctuated each episode. All of that meant I tended to pick up and put down the book a lot more than I would have otherwise.

    Really dense time-travel love story novella packed with wonderful writing that focuses on sensory experiences.

    There were parts that felt like filler, included in the book more for the beauty of language than anything to do with the plot or story. The episodic structure also made it hard for me to keep focused, since the real story seemed to be unfolding in the letters that punctuated each episode. All of that meant I tended to pick up and put down the book a lot more than I would have otherwise.

    But it was thoughtful and cool, and the clashing civilizations were different in really interesting ways.

  • Victoria Schwab

    Holy shit this was good.

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء

    is the kind of novel that dips in and out of minds, catches the sharp sun of memory and gleams, leaves its scent on its readers, like perfume transferred between lovers. As soon as you start to put more words in,

    is the kind of novel that dips in and out of minds, catches the sharp sun of memory and gleams, leaves its scent on its readers, like perfume transferred between lovers. As soon as you start to put more words in, however, you stagger and come to bewilderment—like reaching for something and misjudging the distance, feeling your fingers close over nothing but air. My head is still heavy with some fierce thing no matter how many times I sought to identify, name, I couldn’t. I had to read this novel in small doses, swallowing its blows a little at a time and I reckon I’ll need several rereads to figure out all that I can’t say in words right now.

    Even now, I find it hard to describe the action of the novel, but—without spoiling anything—I can tell you that the first strand running through this loosely-braided narrative came in the form of a letter. The first of its kind was only pretend, an instant of self-indulgence, something like laying laughter over the dark, but it begun a circling of time for Red, the past cutting into the present like a whetted blade. The second letter was an abyss daring her to fall inside, and Red had a sense that she and Blue were all digging themselves deeper than ever before. By the third letter, Red felt that they were cutting their own throats by this:

    The two women were more real to each other than reflections in a mirror and their scarred and hacked edges had borne witness to too many battles waged against time (and each other). They were like fish eyeing the hook, with too many forces ready to make siege weapons of their letters. In the sheer, shimmering improbability of the moment, however, they could almost pretend this love affair wasn’t a fool’s errand.

    is not a light read by any stretch. It's a book of sustained beauty and lyricism that also works as a fractured mosaic of a novel—told in swift, brutal strokes, all wound into vertiginous loops of prose.

    It is difficult, at first, to get a firm grip on the slippery setting of 

    . I felt like a girl hurled unwary into a tale she didn’t understand, with folk all around waiting for her to take up a part she didn’t know. The dim shapes of words remained just beyond understanding, and I had a strong sense of vertigo, like I was free-falling through a huge, dark chasm. There was a dream-like quality to the experience, as if those moments were divorced from the waking world by the strangeness of it all. But even with confusion painted on my face, the story made sense to me in a wordless way that could only be described as magic. Every word was worth savoring, and my own breath seemed to pipe in harmony.

    Which is why I think the novel would be irreducible by any easy categorization:

    is a time travel adventure, a sci-fi romp, poetry masquerading as prose, and a love story. It’s an intricate dance, and one that the authors render with agility, grace and ease. That they could pull it off at all—let alone so winningly—is something of a marvel itself, and I was left genuinely impressed.

    While

    is not written in verse, poetry lives in its pages. The authors are in thrilling command of their narrative gifts, and their language soars as they write of beauty, longing, survival, and freedom.

    That said, those gifts can double as obstacles. As dizzying and immersive as the setting and premise are,

    is novel that is both exhilarating and exhausting—sometimes simultaneously. Even as I snatched hungrily at the next page, there were moments when the lyricism felt labored—the sentences so bedecked with metaphors and analogies that reading becomes akin to treading water in sodden clothes, barely keeping your nose and mouth above the surface—and I found myself craving a little restraint. Inside the long economy of a novel, too much prose—no matter how exquisite—can occasionally hamper the otherwise compelling flow, and, I think readers who can’t muster tame patience for tackling a few extra pages of mellifluous language might not find as much resonance.

    I’m confident, however, that those able to relax into the chaos will be richly rewarded as the strands eventually beautifully entwine together.

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  • rin ( ̄ヘ ̄)	 read/watch mo dao zu shi

    i wish i liked it more but it's a little too poetic for me i guess? im not into this type of prose much

  • Philip

    2ish stars.

    What it comes down to is that I'm simply not enough of a romantic to enjoy this book. The appeal lies squarely in the flowery language written in love poems between two post-human women on opposite sides of a time travel war. I just happen to find love poetry more pretentious and mawkish than amorous or emotive. (Can it even really be considered romantic when one character addresses the other as "Dearest Blue-da-ba-dee?")

    The rest of the book (characters, setting, plot) is left

    2ish stars.

    What it comes down to is that I'm simply not enough of a romantic to enjoy this book. The appeal lies squarely in the flowery language written in love poems between two post-human women on opposite sides of a time travel war. I just happen to find love poetry more pretentious and mawkish than amorous or emotive. (Can it even really be considered romantic when one character addresses the other as "Dearest Blue-da-ba-dee?")

    The rest of the book (characters, setting, plot) is left intentionally indistinct and much of it is epistolary in format, so I was left feeling detached and dispassionate. Not enough is described about the characters to identify with them or care much about them outside the context of their forbidden romance. Not enough of the world is described to care much about what's going on with the war itself. As the authors write, “Some things are more important than winning.” When you don't care enough about who wins or loses anyway, the point becomes moot.

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