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 e...

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Title:This Is How You Lose the Time War
Author:Amal El-Mohtar
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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 don'

    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 pl

    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. :)

  • wanderer (Para)

    Whoa. Just...whoa. Another candidate for "best of 2019" for me. It's like someone distilled almost everything I like into one book - exquisite prose, a high dose of weirdness, a queer relationship, a more literary feel, experimental structure - and the end result is

    . Brilliant in a way I'm not sure a review can illustrate. It has to be read to be believed.

    Whoa. Just...whoa. Another candidate for "best of 2019" for me. It's like someone distilled almost everything I like into one book - exquisite prose, a high dose of weirdness, a queer relationship, a more literary feel, experimental structure - and the end result is

    . Brilliant in a way I'm not sure a review can illustrate. It has to be read to be believed.

    Footnote for fans of the romance genre: for the sake of proper expectations, this is a love story but is 

     genre-wise - if anyone rec'd it as such...🤦

    The plot is so simple it's almost not worth describing: two rival agents from the opposite sides of the time war start exchanging letters in secret. A tale as old as time (heh). You can probably guess the broad strokes of where it goes from there and you'd probably be correct, too. But I don't think reducing it like this does it justice. Not even close. It's two lives circling around each other but never quite touching. It's loneliness and longing and finding solace in each other, the war be damned. Technology and nature. It's heady and strange, a book to be savoured rather than devoured.

    The prose is ridiculously good. Absolutely on the stained glass side - poetic, reminiscent of Samatar's

    and practically begging to be read out loud. I could drown in it; I don't know how to give it higher praise than that. Another thing that reminds me of

    is that the war itself, which would be front and centre in most books, is merely a background detail, context for the characters and their interactions (the true main focus) but largely glossed over. The alternation between letters and chapters describing where they find them adds to the disconnect. To be clear, it's nowhere near a bad thing - just different. Unconventional.

    And it's weird in terms of setting, too. Profoundly, gloriously weird. It's a world where poetry is the answer to math riddles, where letters are written in seeds and water and poison and hidden behind eyes, where everything including time is fluid and seemingly anything goes. After all, all is fair in love and war. And that's the beauty of it. Relax, enjoy the wild ride.

    I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, as it's

    experimental fare, but those of us who fall for the stuff will fall hard. It's absolutely my catnip and I can already see it winning all the awards.

    5/5

    5/5

    literary fantasy fans, prose fans, those looking for f/f representation, anyone who enjoyed

    /

    /

    /

    those who like their stories straightforward and need to understand what's going on immediately

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء

    [hands out pamphlets on the street] do you have a moment to talk about this deeply poetic, hugely romantic and delightfully SAPPHIC time-travel adventure?

  • Rose

    I’ll tell you right upfront, this book is not for everyone. Hard sci-fi readers may be disappointed because even though this book is dependant on time travel, it is more about love and told very poetically.

    The story begins at the end of a battle. Our two main characters are the top agents for each side: Red from the technology enhanced future versus Blue from the environmental future (these descriptions are subject to my own interpretation as the truth was slightly vague in the story).

    A message

    I’ll tell you right upfront, this book is not for everyone. Hard sci-fi readers may be disappointed because even though this book is dependant on time travel, it is more about love and told very poetically.

    The story begins at the end of a battle. Our two main characters are the top agents for each side: Red from the technology enhanced future versus Blue from the environmental future (these descriptions are subject to my own interpretation as the truth was slightly vague in the story).

    A message is left by one for the other. It seems to start as a taunt but the messages continue and as they do, things change between Red and Blue.

    From a sci-fi standpoint, I was fascinated by the strange futures Red and Blue were from although both were described very sparingly.

    From a romance standpoint, I thought it was very well done. I don’t usually like romance as they are rushed, sloppy and all about the sex. None of those things apply here.

    From a time travel standpoint, it reminded me of

    with the ability to go to specific points in time to tweak things in a certain direction but the war gave this a duelling banjo feel - one side would tweak to their advantage then the other side would tweak to their advantage. When people were from and how they time travelled was never discussed.

    I can’t say that I’m not a little disappointed with learning so little about the very strange futures Red and Blue come from and also how the war started. Truth be told, now that I’m thinking about it, I really wasn’t told all that much about anything. Wow. The author did a great job sucking me into a story while giving me precious little of what I love (SF and time travel details) and lots of what I don’t love (poetic romance). That’s good writing

  • rin 눈_눈 WATCH GOOD OMENS

    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

  • Billie

    Okay. So. Hmm. I loved the love story aspect of it and generally got the gist of what was going on, but there was some big-picture world building that either went completely over my head (likely) or was missing (possible). Being dumped into the middle of a story that has been going on, off the page, for who-knows-how-long can be disorienting. And maybe it was meant to be. Or maybe I'm just not smart enough for this book. Or maybe it was a mis-step on the part of the authors. Whatever the reason

    Okay. So. Hmm. I loved the love story aspect of it and generally got the gist of what was going on, but there was some big-picture world building that either went completely over my head (likely) or was missing (possible). Being dumped into the middle of a story that has been going on, off the page, for who-knows-how-long can be disorienting. And maybe it was meant to be. Or maybe I'm just not smart enough for this book. Or maybe it was a mis-step on the part of the authors. Whatever the reason for it, I finished the book feeling like I had missed something, like there was something there that I wasn't getting. Whatever it was, it made me feel stupid and, honestly, like the authors were having a laugh at my expense. I've no doubt that the book will be lauded for its cleverness and some well-meaning person will try to explain it all to me like I'm a four-year-old and I'll end up feeling even more lacking for having not gotten it. And I know that not every book is for every reader and I am obviously not the right readerly fit for this particular volume. But, if you're going to make me feel stupid, do it on a China Mieville level that makes me want to learn more and get smarter and not in a way that feels like I've just read a two hundred-page inside joke that only the "cool" kids will get.

    Gods. I apparently have feelings about this one and I didn't realize how deeply negative those feelings were until I started typing this. I still liked the love story, though. It felt rather Nick Bantock-ish, which was a nostalgic kind of fun.

  • caitlin ✶

    3.5 stars. ya’ll better not sleep on this adult sci-fi SAPPHIC romance, or else

  • ☙ percy ❧

    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

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