marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Celestial Matters

Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle

This is an odd one.  One could call it hard science fiction and space opera except for the little fact it's another universe.  A very different universe.  A Ptolemaic solar planetary system.  Aristotelian physics.

And Greek history is not quite what you remember from the days of classical Greece onward.  Socrates died of honorable old age.  Aristotle and Alexander set out to conquer the world with the fruits of Aristotle's discoveries.  An attack on the Middle Kingdom led to its uniting under a new Son of Heaven and fighting back.  And war has not ceased centuries later.

Meanwhile, they've discovered how to travel to space.  The sphere of fire does not exist after all.  And our narrator, Aias, is off to lead a mission that will go and steal some of the sun's fire for their war.  Finding a lull of thirty days, he heads to Gaia to relax.

A Middle Kingdom war kite attacks the merchant ship he's on, in the middle of sea.  The Navy arrives with a bodyguard specifically assigned to him -- Yellow Hare.  She hails from the North Atlantea region.  (Greece has conquered a bit more in the centuries.)  And she is to never leave him because his project is of the highest importance.

The rest of the tale includes Orphic mysteries, deconsecrating statues of gods before they fall from the ship, the most corrupt slave in all the empire, forcing a Middler doctor to treat Greek patients, Aias knowing a man is innocent of charges but unable to reveal why he knows it, several searches for spies, and much more.

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