A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (Teixcalaan #1)
Release Date: 26 March 2019
Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.
Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.
The first four chapters make up this preview, and introduce both the universe (literally) and Mahit to us. In this world technology exists to have memories and knowledge uploaded and shared, which allows them to be used, for example, by ambassadors to have a full and expansive history passed down by predecessors to the current holder of the position.
Mahit only has one predecessor to learn from, and his knowledge is 15 years out of date, as the prior ambassador didn’t get in contact with his home world for a long time before he vanished, and a new one was requested by the empire. Yskandr, in his memory form, is about the same age as Mahit, and they’re still learning how to get along and work together.
As the blurb alludes to, this is going to be a murder mystery (but set in space), with the political complexities that come with trying to figure out who killed her predecessor without insulting anyone, getting killed herself, or causing offence. There are several cultures described to the reader that make things that could otherwise be simple, perhaps not, and then there’s the whole big thing about the huge empire that isn’t letting anything stand in its way just to ramp up the fun.
I’m already in love with the memory-implant idea from reading Aliette de Bodard’s work and I’m thrilled to be able to read another take on it. I hope to get my hands on the rest of the book because this preview alone isn’t going to let me sleep tonight. Luckily, the rest is out in a few days.