ARC Mini Review – Rosebud

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing the sci-fi novella Rosebud by Paul Cornell. I stumbled across this one while perusing NetGalley one day and was intrigued by the synopsis. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it, and saying it defied my pre-existing notions of what it might be like would be an understatement.

A multilayered, locked-room science fiction novella from Paul Cornell in which five digital beings unravel their existences to discover the truth of their humanity.

“The crew of the Rosebud are, currently, and by force of law, a balloon, a goth with a swagger stick, some sort of science aristocrat possibly, a ball of hands, and a swarm of insects.”

When five sentient digital beings—condemned for over three hundred years to crew the small survey ship by the all-powerful Company—encounter a mysterious black sphere, their course of action is clear: obtain the object, inform the Company, earn lots of praise.

But the ship malfunctions, and the crew has no choice but to approach the sphere and survey it themselves. They have no idea that this object—and the transcendent truth hidden within—will change the fate of all existence, the Company, and themselves.

***Thank you to NetGalley and tordotcom for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

Bob Ross and Christopher Lee (dressed as Dracula) floating through the void of space together was not a mental image I ever thought I would have… until I read this book.

This novella was absolutely bonkers but in all the best ways. The characters were so off the wall, and I can honestly say I’ve never read anything similar to this particular cast. They provided so much quirky humor while also exploring some incredibly deep themes related to identity, personhood, and the potential outcomes of current/impending social and environmental upheavals. It really made me stop and think, and I even teared up at a couple points where the story and characters had me in my feelings. The plot was super timey wimey and difficult to follow at times, but it all ended up making a certain sort of sense in the end. I was having so much fun with these characters that I didn’t really care anyway. If you like your science fiction wacky, full of interesting ideas, and with a generous helping of fascinating social commentary, you will probably enjoy this novella. It was a short read but has the potential for a big impact. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

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