Review: “This Is How You Lose the Time War”

This Is How You Lose the Time WarThis Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story of desperation is told in exhilarating prose. Two agents — enemies fighting in a war to the death across space and time — begin to leave each other letters, and their correspondence grows to matter more to each other than the war. The result is a gem of literary science fiction.

This short novel won a basketful of awards, but the best words about it may have been said by the authors, Max Gladstone and Amal el-Mohtar, in their Hugo Award acceptance speech.

Max: To travel in time you have to understand time. There’s no one history of the world — every telling leaves things and people out. But everything that happens, has happened.

Amal: We’re taught history as if it’s a letter written from the past and addressed to us, but if that’s true it’s a letter from a sybil or a spy, allusive, full of hidden meanings and secret writing. The work of a lifetime is learning to read between its lines — and then, learning to reply.

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