Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya Stories

By Carl Slaughter: Aliette de Bodard has written 26 stories in her Xuya universe.  Several stories in this series have been nominated for and won the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and BSFA awards.  The novella The Citadel of the Weeping Pearls was released as a book in March 2017.


The Citadel of Weeping Pearls was a great wonder; a perfect meld between cutting edge technology and esoteric sciences—its inhabitants capable of teleporting themselves anywhere, its weapons small and undetectable and deadly.

Thirty years ago, threatened by an invading fleet from the Dai Viet Empire, the Citadel disappeared and was never seen again.

But now the Dai Viet Empire itself is under siege, on the verge of a war against an enemy that turns their own mindships against them; and the Empress, who once gave the order to raze the Citadel, is in desperate needs of its weapons. Meanwhile, on a small isolated space station, an engineer obsessed with the past works on a machine that will send her thirty years back, to the height of the Citadel’s power.

But the Citadel’s disappearance still extends chains of grief and regrets all the way into the fraught atmosphere of the Imperial Court; and this casual summoning of the past might have world-shattering consequences…

Check out the Xuya chronology at the author’s site:


By now the universe has grown rather large, so I’m sure you’d appreciate some pointers on where to start… The stories are standalone–the chronological order is below but the main connections are the recurring universe rather than the characters or plot!

Like award-winning short fiction? 

“Immersion” won the Nebula and Locus Award. “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” was a finalist for the Locus Award and won a BSFA Award. And “A Salvaging of Ghosts” was reprinted in two Year’s Best anthologies.

9 thoughts on “Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya Stories

  1. “the novel Citadel of the Weeping Pearls” is actually a novella called “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls”. It’s excellent. I’d love a Xuya collection at some point.

  2. On a Red Station Drifting was the first De Bodard story I read, and thus got hooked on her work, thereby.

  3. The copyright page says Originally published by Asimov’s 2015, and I did a quick estimate of 270 words/page, which gives about 44,000 if you straight multiply by 164 pages – this is almost certainly an overestimate. RSR gives the novella’s wordcount as 32,400. Since there’s no A slightly different version… in the copyright, I would infer that this is the original novella.

    My reaction to de Bodard’s Xuya stories has been so uniformly the Eight Deadly Words that it’s really bothering me, because I don’t understand why: they’re filled with things I like in SF (interstellar civilizations that aren’t America in Space!!!, strange technologies and mysterious physics) and yet my reaction (including to this one) is pretty much “Meh.”

  4. Yes, it was an Asimovs novella, and a Locus finalist in that category, the author says it is “about 34k words.” I’m probably just quibbling; I guess that being specific about the category has been drilled into me over the past few years 🙂

  5. My main stumbling block wrt to this series is due to the accumulated effect of having read sf for half a century. I am really very tired of autocratic government as the default in SF.

  6. I like this series a lot, but the future-y parts don’t seem to require the past parts. Esp. the Aztecs.

  7. @James David Nicoll: That’s certainly not helping, but I don’t think it’s at the root of my reaction to the stories. I’m just not sure what is.

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