Recommended Fiction: A Memory Called Empire

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

ISBN13: 9781250186430

Recommended Fiction is a new feature on the Epos blog. The idea is to share great speculative and fantasy books that can teach a writer something and is a great read.

Arkady Martine’s space opera, A Memory Called Empire is an intimate look at empire seen from within by an outsider. That unique point of view is one of the driving forces in the book. There is plenty of technology and all the political intrigue a galactic empire can produce.

What makes this a great read is the focus on characters at a personal level rather than scenes focused on the plots and machinations. The reader cares about the characters caught up in all the infighting and intrigue rather than the intrigue itself.

It is the connections between characters and their setting that authors should note. We take for granted that characters will connect to other characters, but it is the connection to setting—their place in the world that deepens the story and builds the emotional resonance.

The worldbuilding is rich and complex and is worth studying as an author. Using language and ideas about how people communicate, and how an empire disseminates information is original and fitting a story dealing with colonization. Using poetry to record history and produce propaganda is also unique for Science Fiction.

A Memory Called Empire is rich in ideas and thought provoking challenges to tropes that should make fellow writers re-examine their own works in progress.