Cover Image: Some Desperate Glory

Some Desperate Glory

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Immersive, propulsive, and original. This is a recommended purchase for collections where sci-fi is popular.
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See my review in Nov/Dec 2023 issue of Analog Science Fiction:
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I adored this book and all of its' characters. The AI angle is always something that I am interested in but just to see a character who is so militant and rigid become this completely different person? Amazing, fantastic. I loved every second of it. Perfectly paced and the character development left nothing to be desired for. Five out of five stars!
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In full disclosure, I am not normally a fan of alternate universes and “resetting” during a narrative. As a result, I feel it fair to warn anyone getting into this book that you are re-reading the same character’s life in 3 different universes total. This is also a book that starts with the worst possible outcome and then works to get “better.” That said, getting through the first of the three universes was hard, both due to the content (militarizing children, abuse, homophobia, genocide) and the flatness of the primary character, Kyr.

However, once you get past that first universe, it’s a fun read. Everything is set up, built upon, and tied together well, including the deepening of Kyr and related characters. Heavy issues are brought up but dripped throughout the three universes, allowing for different points of view and not getting too overwhelmed at once. Some issues are glossed over more than I’d like (such as racial issues), but overall I found them handled pretty well.

For queerness, both Kyr and her brother are queer, though Kyr doesn’t realize it until Universe #2. There is an alien species with many genders, generally referred to as “them.” There could have been more trans and non-binary representation in humanity, as well as ace representation, for this to be an even queerer space opera. I still enjoyed what was offered.
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Kyr, raised in self sustaining Gaia Station with what remains of humanity, and trained as a warrior, refuses her assignment to Nursery, leaves, and discovers that nothing is what she was brought up to believe.

Having grown up in a cult after Earth was destroyed, Kyr changes from a devoted believer to an insurgent who fights back against Gaea and all it stands for.
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Early on this book took a turn o wasn't expecting, but that really grabbed me! A great space opera sci-fi! Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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A great story. Loved the writing and the characters. What a well done story. Highly recommend if you love space books.
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Eh. The main character took some getting used to. I love a good unlikable MC, but this one was a bit more unlikable than I would have liked. However, the storyline and twists are really fun, and I do think I'd read a sequel to this if there was one, as I started to like the MC more towards the end, so I think Id enjoy a followup book even more!
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Really Enjoyed It, 4 stars

This book was a hard book to rate. I don't know that there was a lot that I truly enjoyed about it, but it was extremely compelling and was really interesting in terms of the ideas and themes that were explored and how it went about doing that, so I finally landed on 4 stars. 

Before we get into the meat of my review, I want to say that there are a lot of content warnings for this book and I highly recommend checking them out. It is a very dark world and as a result, we have lots of CWs. 

In this book we follow Valkyr "Kyr" who is a cadet on a space station harboring the last of humanity. She has spent her life training and becoming her absolute best to make it into a Combat wing where she will devote her life to fighting the aliens that destroyed Earth. However, through a series of events, she ends up leaving the station and discovers that perhaps the alien race that she has been raised to hate so much are actually more like people than she ever realized, and perhaps her life on Gaea station was not all that she was led to believe it was. 

I think that one of the biggest things about this book is that Kyr is an unlikable character. We start out the book despising her, and by the end of it, even though I still didn't like her that much, I was proud of her for how much growth she had undergone throughout the course of the novel. A lot of this story was sort of her deconstruction from her fascist and supremacist cult upbringing. This book explores themes of power and corruption, justice and vengeance, and the courage and pain in changing your beliefs.

While Kyr was not likable, she was certainly compelling, and is a big reason that I ultimately came away with positive feelings towards this book. Her journey was a very interesting one, and I wanted to know how it all would end, and how she would develop as a character. I also felt like the pacing was done well. I was engaged and interested in the world. I feel like being in only Kyr's perspective did limit some of the worldbuilding because a lot of elements were introduced that I wanted to learn more about, but Kyr wasn't necessarily interested so we didn't get as deep as I would have liked into some of those elements. Overall though, in my opinion it was well-paced and well-written. 

I thought an interesting thing that this book made use of was time slips and alternate/parallel universes. Usually time travel is not something that I have a lot of patience for in my print media, but it really worked for me in this context. I felt like it made sense for the story and it was sort of explained in an *oooh magic* sort of way, which made it much more palatable for me. 

I do think that in addition to being just sort of unlikable, Kyr is very naive to the ways of the world, so this is sort of like a coming of age story for her. As a result, she makes some really terrible decisions. She is still young and when considered with her characterization, a lot of these make sense for the story that was being told, but I can see that becoming frustrating for some readers. 
Overall, while I had an overall positive experience with this book, I do feel like it is somewhat difficult to recommend widely. I think that if you are interested you should definitely give it a go and form your own opinions though. I have had Emily Tesh's novellas on my TBR for a very long time, and I would definitely like to go back and give those a try as well. 
Thank you to Netgalley and Tordotcom for an eARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I enjoyed some aspects of this book like the world building and the plot twists, but I had a difficult time keeping interest. Kyr is not a likable character at all, and I found it hard to follow such a bigoted character. She does make personal growth, and there are defenses as to why she is the way she is, but it still made it drag somewhat to reach that character growth.
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Thank you to Netgalley for this Advanced Copy of Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh.  While the story is very intriguing, I think I'd prefer this story as TV, rather than a reading experience.
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Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh is a bit of an odd one for me. It’s marketed as an adult sci-f, but instead it feels very reminiscent of the YA dystopian craze of the 2010s where a fleet of humanity’s survivors must be assigned to very specific roles and are trained to fight against a big, evil alien force known as Wisdom.

Unfortunately, I found most of the characters to be one-dimensional stereotypes with the exception of maybe the main character’s brother, Magnus, who was the most nuanced of the bunch.

I also thought it bizarre that some major plot twists were revealed through epigraphs at the beginning of chapters. Honestly, I feel like those revelations would have been more impactful if they were organically revealed within the story itself.

Overall, this book is an entertaining but shallow palette cleanser if you need a break from denser space operas.
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Life is too short to continue on with books you are not enjoying. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book.
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This sci-fi novel does something I've never seen outside of fanfiction: create an alternate universe of its own story and characters. And it does it *well.* Val Kyr has trained all her life to defeat the aliens and their god-like artificial intelligence known as the Wisdom. But when she finally gets the chance, it all goes terribly wrong. And everything she thought she knew about humanity and aliens and war is suddenly flipped on its head. 

Big TW for suicide.
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I want to inject this book into my veins - new favorite read of 2023. Emily Tesh is such a talent in terms of both character development and plotting through dimensions.

I was almost afraid to read this book because I absolutely loved the title and cover, and I was scared the actual book was going to let me down. How wrong I was! I have already ordered a physical copy of this book because I needed it on my bookshelves. A queer space rollercoaster that doesn't let you get off until the very last page.
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Kyr was born and raised to be a weapon. The Majo have destroyed the planet Earth, and a last remnant of survivors lives on Gaia, a barren rock, struggling both to survive and to get their revenge. Kyr has worked her entire young life to prepare herself for war. Her test and training scores are among the best ever, male or female. She has worked hard to beat the scores set by her sister, Ursa, a quest driven more urgently by Ursa’s betrayal and flight from Gaia. She refuses to be less than the sister who betrayed her own people.

When a Majo ship is captured, Kyr meets the sole occupant, an alien named Yiso. Yiso is small and slender, particularly beside the genetically enhanced body of Kyr and the other children of Earth. Far from being the menacing figure of legend, Yiso is comparatively weak and timid. If this is the best among the aliens, how did the humans lose the war?

Kyr’s brother Mags is sent on a suicide mission while Kyr herself is assigned to a much more domestic role, a role she believes she is particularly ill-suited for. In a desperate attempt to rescue her brother and to escape her own unwelcome fate, Kyr flees the outpost with Yiso and Mags’s friend Avi, and together they travel to the human-colonized planet Chrysothemis.

Emily Tesh writes a space novel that is part thriller, part mystery, and all adventure. Kyr is perhaps the ultimate bad-ass. She is a warrior who has trained obsessively to be the ultimate human weapon. Somehow, though, her training has completely neglected areas of human feeling: love, compassion, understanding, thoughtfulness. She is a jerk. People do not like her, and she doesn’t really care at first. By the time she recognizes that she has a problem, it may be too late. She is driven by hate and arrogance: hatred for the aliens that cracked open the Earth like an egg and killed over 14 billion people, and arrogance toward those she considers her lessers–which is just about everybody. It would require something unthinkable to alter Kyr’s mindset.

Tesh deeply explores what hate can do to a person and to a group. She also writes with compassion toward her completely uncompassionate protagonist. Kyr was raised to be exactly what she has become. Can she–can anyone–overcome their upbringing, find redemption, change the course of their own history?

Can they do it without their world ending?
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3.75 stars -- a very fun, very queer space opera, where the end goal is to essentially save the planet, or human existence as a whole. i enjoyed the story, tuned out in some places, but ultimately had a good time.
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dnf @27% — life got in the way, absolutely nothing against this book

The set-up and writing were intriguing, I just took too long to read it and lost interest,
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This is one of those books where you THINK you know what's going on, and then stuff goes down and you're like, wait. Hang on, hang on. What just happened? Like that scene in the Matrix where the cat crosses the stairwell twice.

Kyr is a brainwashed soldier, raised in a Fascist space station, trained from birth for vengeance over the destruction of Earth. Except she gets assigned to "Nursery" instead, forced to give birth to more supersoldiers until she dies. Faced with that kind of fate, she decides to take matters into her own hands and strike out into the world in search of heroism -- and slowly realizes along the way that nothing is what she thought.

And then finds that what she thought after she realized that was also not quite right either.

And again.

It's a wild space opera with deep emotions, rich worldbuilding, and super feisty girls. What's not to like?
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In Gaea station, the last remnants of humanity are being trained to fight to avenge the murder of planet Earth. The space alliance called the majoda destroyed the Earth, killing 14 billion people and the handful of survivors on Gaea are determined that humanity will rise up again to destroy the majoda. They are bred for war from genetically enhanced humans and brainwashed from birth to accept that their role is to destroy the majoda and their most powerful weapon, the Wisdom, capable of altering time and space reality. Only the strongest fighters are be selected to join the squadrons sent out to battle the majoda. Those who don’t make the cut will become technicians or cleaners on the station, or in the case of women, breeders and child carers.

Kyr is 17 and, along with her twin brother Mags, about to graduate from Gaea’s intensive warrior training and be assigned a role. They are two of the best fighters of their generation, both tall and powerful, and with their Uncle Joel being the station commander, they are in no doubt they will both be picked for combat squadrons. Except things don’t turn out quite as predicted and when Mags has no choice but to leave Gaea, Kyr must decide whether to stay and serve her people or leave to search for the brother she loves. 

Emily’ Tesh’s first full-length novel is space opera at its best, packed with plenty of action and suspense. The world building is excellent, especially the closed, dystopian world of Gaea, cut off from the rest of the universe and ruled by an autocratic military dictatorship. The novel will also transport us to beautiful worlds where complex communities live together in peace. Kyr is a well written character, initially difficult to warm to as she is indoctrinated to be ruthless and resilient and show no feelings. She lacks empathy and is hard on herself and others and it’s no surprise she is not popular with her classmates. However, she will later come to question her upbringing and brainwashing on Gaea and grow to become more compassionate and caring. There is a strong cast of supporting characters including Mags, his nerdy, queer friend Avi, as well as Yiso the alien whose craft has been captured by Gaea and who will play an important role in helping Kyr. 

The novel is not overly dense with weighty facts and would also be suitable for a YA audience. Throughout there is a lot of wry humour, mostly at the expense of the characters and a lot of fun is had in playing with the multiverse. Although described as a queer space opera, this did not feel like central element, with gender diversity is tackled fairly superficially. Many other important themes are also raised including racism, bigotry, corruption and misogyny, as well as the way we choose to structure human society, although again not dealt with in great depth. One of the delights of the novel is the major twist in the middle which takes the novel in an unexpected but very entertaining direction, eventually resulting in an original and satisfying ending. There is plenty her for fans of scifi thrillers to enjoy.
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