A review by leguinstan
Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

adventurous reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Checked out this novella because it was nominated for the Ursula K. Le Guin Award in 2022 and it did not disappoint! The cultural and linguistic misunderstandings between the two main characters made both of their POVs really engaging to read. Everytime something of significance happened in one chapter I was excited to read the other character's perspective in the next chapter. I particularly appreciate how the two POVs are used to explore some ethical questions regarding the field of cultural anthropology. The story is funny and thoughful.

The progression of Nyr's character arc, as his priorities shift and his relationship with the inhabitants of the planet evolves, is incredibly compelling. While Lynesse is also an interesting character, it's a bit of a shame that she is not as complex as Nyr and unlike him she barely has any character development. Regardless, I do like her as a character and I genuinely think the lack of her POV would've resulted in a much weaker novella overall.

In all honesty, I was a tad sad when I finished Elder Race because I wanted to spend more time in the setting. Throughout the novella Tchaikovsky would drop these interesting world-building tidbits that made the setting feel believably complex without ruining the story's tight pacing. As much as I like to nitpick, I want to emphasize the fact that the novella's ending did not disappoint me in the least. I feel the story ended in a very satisfying manner and I do not feel there were any annoying loose ends. It felt very complete and my statements about wanting to spend more time in the world are to be taken as a compliment. I think Tchaikovsky handled Elder Race's short page count really well!

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