In the Shadow of the Ship (preorder)

In the Shadow of the Ship (preorder)

Illustration By Maurizio Manzieri
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(preorder—to be published in September 2024)

Dust jacket illustration by Maurizio Manzieri.

Aliette de Bodard adds to her acclaimed Xuya universe with a brand new novella, In the Shadow of the Ship.

About the Book:

Nightjar, sentient ship and family matriarch, looms large in Khuyên’s past. Disappearances drove teenage Khuyên from it, but death will steer her back.

Now an adult and a magistrate, Khuyên came for her maternal grandmother’s funeral but finds herself unwittingly reliving her past on the decaying Nightjar. Children are still disappearing as her childhood friends once did; and worse, her beloved Cousin Anh vanishes after pleading for her help.

Khuyên sets out to save Anh alongside Thảo, a beautiful and mysterious woman who seems to know more than she should about Khuyên and the ship. But saving Anh requires doing what Khuyên couldn’t do before: face her family, face the ship, face her own hopes and fears for the future—a future that might well include Thảo, but only if Khuyên can stop listening to the critical voice in her head.

A voice that sounds an awful lot like Nightjar’s...

Limited: 1250 signed numbered hardcover copies


From Locus:

“For all its brevity, this is a dense and emotionally complex piece, carrying grief and hope, pain and potential, in equal measure. The ashes of the past meeting the chance to build something different for the future. I always enjoy de Bodard’s work, and In the Shadow of the Ship is no exception: a sharp-edged and glittering science-fictional gem.”


In the Shadow of the Ship

Khuyên hadn’t expected to ever come back to her birthplace.

She’d run away from The Nightjar, Thirsting for Water when she was sixteen. She’d left behind the ruined mindship and her endless travel between the stars, her desperate hurtling away into the vast darkness of space, her steadfast quest for a refuge that the Numbered Planets—ravaged from decades of war—couldn’t provide. Khuyên had left behind, too, her family and their unshakeable devotion to the ship’s demands and needs.

And now, here she was.

Because Grandmother was dead, and Khuyên’s colleagues—like her, all officials in the service of the Dragon Throne—had spoken of duty. Of the value of honouring one’s ancestors. Of the necessary period of mourning. And because—on some level—Khuyên still felt guilty for running away—for failing to do her duty to uphold the order of the world, for abandoning her family.

Khuyên had taken an imperial mindship to the periphery, and from there a shuttle to the isolated planet where Nightjar was due to dock. And when Nightjar had arrived—when she had loomed out of the darkness of space, shimmering like some monster out of myth, the rusted paint on her pitted and cratered hull glittering as white as funeral clothes, as white as sorrow—Khuyên had fought the spike of fear that sent her heartbeat faster and faster at the thought of facing those she’d left behind.

She’d reminded herself, again and again, that she was a magistrate of the Đại Quang district on the Sixty-Fourth Planet, and her duties lay elsewhere. That she’d made a choice to leave all of it behind—family, ship, and everything else—and that she’d felt few regrets over the past four years.

It had helped, but not that much.

Now Khuyên was in the old reception room with her bots clustered around her, feeling naked and vulnerable—as if everyone could see her elevated heartbeat, the sweat on her skin—the roiling mass of fear and guilt within her that threatened to burst out.



Aliette de Bodard
Maurizio Manzieri
96 pages