The practice, the horizon, and the chain

Sofia Samatar

Book - 2024

The boy was raised as one of the Chained, condemned to toil in the bowels of a mining ship out among the stars. His whole world changes--literally--when he is yanked "upstairs" and informed he has been given an opportunity to be educated at the ship's university alongside the elite. Overwhelmed and alone, the boy forms a bond with the woman he comes to know as "the professor," a weary idealist and descendent of the Chained who has spent her career striving for validation from her more senior colleagues, only to fall short at every turn. Together, the boy and the woman will embark on a transformative journey to grasp the design of the chains that fetter them both--and are the key to breaking free. --

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1st Floor New Shelf SCIENCE FICTION/Samatar Sofia (NEW SHELF) Due Jun 5, 2024
Science fiction
New York : Tor 2024.
Main Author
Sofia Samatar (author)
First edition
Physical Description
127 pages ; 21 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

The boy only knows the Hold as a dark, cold place where everyone is chained at the ankle and made to work. A Hold is filled with people, and it can be dispensed with, depending on the economics of a ship's situation. He has been spending time with the Prophet, who lost his daughter to another ship of the fleet. The professor sees something in the boy and brings him out of the Hold on a kind of scholarship to study at the university. The boy gradually adapts to the ways of the university and the living world of the ship, so different from the Hold. He sees visions of how the anklets connect everyone, and he has found the Prophet's daughter. This leads the professor into what is considered rebellious behavior that threatens the scholarship program. Hugo- and Nebula-award winner Samatar (Monster Portraits, 2018) beautifully weaves an allegory about caste systems and academia in a fleet of colony ships.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

From PEN Award winner Samatar (The White Mosque) comes a brutal, haunting, yet ultimately uplifting novella examining capitalism and labor exploitation through the lens of science fiction. "The boy," 17 and one half of a duo of nameless protagonists, was born and raised in the hold of a mining ship, a place of chain gangs and forced labor. Through a scholarship program, he's rescued to the world above by "the woman," who implemented the program, and whose father, too, was raised in the hold. What at first appears to be a relatively familiar academic setting--the woman is a professor, the boy a tentative new student under her tutelage --slowly unravels, revealing the deep horrors underlying the reality these characters inhabit. Samatar unfurls worldbuilding details with masterful subtlety, making each shocking reveal all the more potent. Through what amounts to a meditative far-future allegory, Samatar highlights the power of collective action in the face of oppression. This packs a punch. (Apr.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

The hidden brutality of academe and the ruthless corporate pursuit of profit have combined into a big ball of wrong in this human fleet of space leeches. But it's a wrong that no one wants to examine too closely, lest they be condemned to life in the Hold, a permanent underclass that mines the asteroids the fleet preys upon. The ossified class system lets each class look down upon all the others (even when they're looking up), especially the university, which thinks itself enlightened when it brings a gifted young man up from the depths so that it can civilize and denigrate him from a much closer vantage point. Unwittingly, the man starts a revolution and exposes at least a few people for what they truly are. VERDICT Metaphysical and philosophical, this novella from Samatar (The White Mosque) combines space adventure with an examination of the carceral state, here set in academia, that will leave readers with much to think about. This will appeal to readers who were fascinated by the stultifying caste systems of Medusa Uploaded by Emily Devenport and Braking Day by Adam Oyebanji and the rot of academe in The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older.--Marlene Harris

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