In Aimee Ogden's Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters, one woman will travel to the stars and beyond to save her beloved in this lyrical space opera that reimagines The Little Mermaid.
Gene-edited human clans have scattered throughout the galaxy, adapting themselves to environments as severe as the desert and the sea. Atuale, the daughter of a Sea-Clan lord, sparked a war by choosing her land-dwelling love and rejecting her place among her people. Now her husband and his clan are dying of a virulent plague, and Atuale’s sole hope for finding a cure is to travel off-planet. The one person she can turn to for help is the black-market mercenary known as the World Witch—and Atuale’s former lover. Time, politics, bureaucracy, and her own conflicted desires stand between Atuale and the hope for her adopted clan.
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Poetic as myth, but studded with spaceships, gene-modification technology, and alien species, Ogden's debut delivers an emotionally mature if occasionally labored reimagining of "The Little Mermaid." Atuale's husband, Saaravel, is dying of the disease that's ravaging their community, while Atuale, the Greatclan Lord's daughter who left the ocean for land, is immune to the sickness. It's up to her to save her husband and his people, but to do so she must join forces with her former lover, the World-Witch Yanja, as they travel the galaxy looking for a cure. With this slim space opera, Ogden delves deep into Atuale's psyche, probing her love for both Saaravel and Yanja, her longing for adventure, and her desire for motherhood. Unfortunately, Ogden's literary flourishes sometimes obscure the action with purple prose ("Light splinters on dissolved particulates with the wisdom of a thousand ancient suns"). Tonally, the novella is mostly a cerebral rumination, but it occasionally slips from pondering to ponderous. Fans of feminist fairy tale retellings and thoughtful speculative fiction will appreciate Atuale's quest but may find themselves skimming flowery passages to get to the heart of the story.