This Is How You Lose the Time War (Paperback)
Friends, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone have really pulled something off with this one, and I'm just over here floating in a pool of my own OMG thinking about it.
Red and Blue are top agents of war, traveling across time and space to sow the seeds of future victories for The Agency and Garden, their respective and fundamentally opposing sides in the titular time war. They begin a very off-limits correspondence with repercussions that will be felt across the multiverse, as their battlefield boasts quickly develop into something deeper and far more dangerous for them both.
The letters these agents hide in time for one another (in really fascinating ways, I might add), are achingly beautiful, with teeth and sharp edges and blunt force to spare, while the more traditional narrative pieces strike a perfect balance of urgency and wonder.
The fact that El-Mohtar and Gladstone created something so epic in such a such a short page count feels like a feat in and of itself. It's almost as if they're trying to make your inevitable second read through less of an affront to the rest your TBR pile...
Red and Blue are top agents on fundamentally opposing sides in the titular time war. Having noticed one another as equals from afar, they begin a secret and very off limits correspondence with repercussions that will be felt across the multiverse, as their battlefield boasts quickly (in an over-the-span-of-all-space-and-time kind of way) develop into something deeper and far more dangerous for them both. Friends, this book is so good. As in I had to leave the room after I finished it to keep myself from diving right back in for another go. As in how the heck did Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone craft such a brutally romantic and deeply moving queer love story AND a mind-blowingly rich time-travel narrative in the span of 198 short pages? To steal a phrase from another time-travel franchise you may be familiar with, This Is How You Lose the Time War is very much bigger on the inside.
“[An] exquisitely crafted tale...Part epistolary romance, part mind-blowing science fiction adventure, this dazzling story unfolds bit by bit, revealing layers of meaning as it plays with cause and effect, wildly imaginative technologies, and increasingly intricate wordplay...This short novel warrants multiple readings to fully unlock its complexities.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone comes an enthralling, romantic novel spanning time and space about two time-traveling rivals who fall in love and must change the past to ensure their future.
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandment finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, becomes something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean the death of each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win. That’s how war works, right?
Cowritten by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.
Max Gladstone is the author of the Hugo-nominated Craft Sequence, which Patrick Rothfuss called “stupefyingly good.” The sixth book, Ruin of Angels, was released September 2017. Max’s interactive mobile game Choice of the Deathless was nominated for the XYZZY Award, and his critically acclaimed short fiction has appeared on Tor and in Uncanny Magazine, and in anthologies such as XO Orpheus: Fifty New Myths and The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales. John Crowley described Max as “a true star of 21st-century fantasy.” Max has sung in Carnegie Hall and was once thrown from a horse in Mongolia.
— Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
"If Iain M. Banks and Gerard Manley Hopkins had ever been able to collaborate on a science fiction project, well, it wouldn’t be half as much fun as this novella. There is all the pleasure of a long series, and all the details of a much larger world, presented in miniature here.”
— Kelly Link
"This book has it all: treachery and love, lyricism and gritty action, existential crisis and space-opera scope, not to mention time traveling superagents. Gladstone's and El-Mohtar's debut collaboration is a fireworks display from two very talented storytellers."
— Madeline Miller, Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction
“Seditious and seductive, lush and lustrous, allusive and elusive, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR is one of those rare stories where one struggles to decide whether to heap more praise upon its clever structure and prose or its brilliant ideas and characters. Never mind ... sit back and let it wind its way into your mind, until, with a start, you realize that you no longer know where the story ends and you start.”
— Ken Liu author of The Grace of Kings and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
“Lyrical and vivid and bittersweet. An absolutely lovely read from two talented writers.”
— Ann Leckie, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Ancillary Justice
“An intimate and lyrical tour of time, myth and history, with a captivating conversation between characters—and authors. Read it.”
— New York Times bestselling author John Scalzi
"This Is How You Lose the Time War is rich and strange, a romantic tour through all of time and the multiverse, and you shouldn’t miss a moment.”
— Martha Wells, Hugo Award-winning author of The Murderbot Diaries
“A time travel adventure that has as much humanity, grace, and love as it has temporal shenanigans, rewriting history, and temporal agents fighting to the death. Two days from now, you've already devoured it.”
— Ryan North, New York Times Bestselling and Eisner Award winning author of How To Invent Everything: A Survival Guide For The Stranded Time Traveler
“Poetry, disguised as genre fiction. I read several sections out loud — this is prose that wants to be more than read. It wants to be heard and tasted.”
— Kelly Sue DeConnick, author of Captain Marvel
"A twisting, sapphic time travel fantasy love story that never stops surprising: El-Mohtar and Gladstone have written the ultimate in enemies-to-lovers romance.”
— Booklist, Starred Review
“Seditious and seductive, lush and lustrous, allusive and elusive, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR is one of those rare stories where one struggles to decide whether to heap more praise upon its clever structure and prose or its brilliant ideas and characters.”
—Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
Tenderness, danger, daring, wit — Time War has them all... In other words, these pages are strewn with myriad delights.
— Nisi Shawl