In Xanadu by Lavie Tidhar

In Xanadu by Lavie Tidhar
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (27 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Security through physicality. Security through redundancy. Security through obscurity. How do immortal artificial intelligences defend themselves? With an air gap. With a security force that has no connection to anything that can harm them. With a young woman, trained to fight and to die who, along with her cohort must keep them safe. But In Xanadu things don’t always go as planned…

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This was a good example of how to combine science fiction with an adventurous plot. Much of the storyline was tied up in showing what happened after Nila, the protagonist, got her deepest wish and had a day at work that was anything but ordinary. It was so interesting to see how this high tech vision of humanity’s distant future intersected with the sort of action scenes that were so similar to what some soldiers experience today.

I was disappointed by the ending. The beginning and middle were fast-paced and exciting, so it was surprising to see how quickly the final scene faded away. While I don’t necessarily expect every question to be answered, especially in cases like these where it seems like the writer might have a sequel in mind, there were a lot of loose threads left dangling. It would have been nice to see at least a few of them tied up in the end.

The world building was well done. I honestly thought I’d accidentally fallen into the middle of series when I started reading this tale because of how much detail was woven into the plot about the militaristic society that Nila lived in and how it had been created. Figuring out that this seemed to be the first and so far only take on these characters only made me more impressed. So much effort had been put into thinking through all sorts of little things that added up to a complex and fascinating setting.

In Xanadu was a wild ride. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys action-packed science fiction.

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