Water Into Wine by Joyce Chng

Water Into Wine by Joyce Chng
Publisher: Annorlunda Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (62 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When war comes to your planet, everything changes.. perhaps even the meaning of family and identity.

Xin inherits a vineyard on a distant planet, and moves there to build a life… but an interstellar war intervenes. Will Xin’s dreams of a new life get caught in the crossfire? Xin’s understanding of family and sense of self must evolve to cope with the changes brought by life on a new planet and a war that threatens everything.

Most people wouldn’t worry about protecting a vineyard during a violent interstellar war, but Xin isn’t like most people.

Xin’s character development was fascinating. He was a transgender man who had recently begun questioning his gender identity yet again at the beginning of this tale. Given that he was also a single parent and the brand new owner of a vineyard despite the fact that he knew very little about growing grapes or making wine, there was plenty of room for him to evolve as a person. I deeply enjoyed seeing how Xin made decisions about everything from what his gender identity was to running a vineyard to adjusting to life on an alien planet.

There were pacing issues. Some scenes were fast-paced while others were much slower. Either writing style would have worked quite well for this tale, but I found it hard to switch between them because of how often the narrator moved from one style to the next. As soon as I adjusted to a slower form of storytelling, the pacing would pick up again with another bombing or nearby battle.

One of the things I liked the most about this story was how beautifully it described the characters and setting in such a compact number of sentences. Ms. Chng weighed out her words so precisely that she was able to show me exactly what everyone looked and sounded like in an incredibly short amount of time. The same thing can be said for her descriptions of the house, wine cellar, and vineyards. My impressions of them were strong and clear the first time she told me what they were like.

I’d recommend Water Into Wine to anyone who has ever wondered what a large battle between many spaceships would be like from the perspective of a civilian living on the ground.

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