Sunday, March 31, 2024

Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh

Some Desperate Glory
Author: Emily Tesh
Release: April 11, 2023
Publisher: Tordotcom
Pages: 438
Review: 5 Stars


While we live, the enemy shall fear us.

All her life Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the murder of planet Earth. Raised in the bowels of Gaea Station alongside the last scraps of humanity, she readies herself to face the Wisdom, the all-powerful, reality-shaping weapon that gave the Majoda their victory over humanity.

They are what’s left. They are what must survive. Kyr is one of the best warriors of her generation, the sword of a dead planet. But when Command assigns her brother to certain death and relegates her to the nursery to bear sons until she dies trying, she knows she must take humanity’s revenge into her own hands.

Alongside her brother’s brilliant but seditious friend and a lonely, captive alien, she escapes from everything she’s ever known into a universe far more complicated than she was taught and far more wondrous than she could have imagined.

A thrillingly told queer space opera about the wreckage of war, the family you find, and who you must become when every choice is stripped from you, Some Desperate Glory is award-winning author Emily Tesh’s highly anticipated debut novel.

You Can Find it At:


I do not have the words to describe how amazing this book is. Emily Tesh fully immerses you in Kyr's world of Gaea Station, only to rip it apart. And then she does it again. A must-read of modern sci-fi. Fans of Ursula Le Guin NEED to check this out. Truly a beautiful work of fiction AND an amazing story. I love Kyr and Cleo and Lisabel and and and. My one note of warning is definitely make sure to check out the content warnings, as Some Desperate Glory deals with some serious topics. Most notably, there is discussion of past sexual assault and an on-page suicide. Also, like, a lot of genocide and murder.

Despite the very heavy themes, I actually think Some Desperate Glory is also a great book for teen readers wanting to explore adult sci-fi. Let me be very clear that it is an adult book. But. Our protagonist Kyr is 18 years old and the pacing will feel familiar to YA readers. I think publishing it as adult was the right choice, largely because it let the author lean into some of the heavier elements and focus on an adult audience, which is more receptive to sci-fi in general right now. (Side note, would love to see some growth in and publishing support for more YA sci-fi). Basically, it's an adult sci-fi with strong crossover appeal for teens.

A lot of the ideas and themes discussed in Some Desperate Glory are both very timely and resonated with me personally. Kyr has been indoctrinated her whole life and spends the book not only reprogramming her belief system, but figuring out how to take a stand. Her views are constantly evolving as she encounters new situations and realizes her world is not as she was told. Eugenics and bioessentialism, homophobia, xenophobia, hyper-militarism, Kyr has absorbed it all. She is cold, calculating. One of the characters describes her as like a horse with blinders on. When she doesn't want to see something, such as something that goes against what she's been conditioned, she pretends it doesn't exist. To truly do the work to deprogram it all, Kyr truly needed to go through every event in the book. She had to see the worst to understand the possibility of doing better. One of the themes that really resonated with me and my own beliefs is expressed at the end. I won't go into too much detail as it's all sorts of spoilers, but toward the end, in regards to deciding who to save, who lives, who dies, she poses the question "what gives you the right to decide". Who are we to decide "the good ones" or "the bad ones".

If you've made it to the end of my rant, you've probably already read the book or are completely sold, but let me throw out one last pitch for the stragglers. Some Desperate Glory is what sci-fi aspires to be. It's a wonderful story yes, but it is also a biting social criticism. I truly believe we are all better for having it, and books like it, in the world.

I'd be remiss if I didn't note that Some Desperate Glory is currently up for the Hugo Award for Best Novel. I encourage you to consider voting for it if you are Hugo voting member.

Okay, last note. I also think Some Desperate Glory would make an AMAZING movie. It sets itself up for a theatrical three-act structure really well. The pacing would transfer really well to the screen. And I just want a way to get the story in front of more eyeballs.

Author Bio:

Emily Tesh is the author of the Greenhollow Duology, which begins with Silver in the Wood and concludes with Drowned Country. Tesh is a winner of the Astounding Award and of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella. Some Desperate Glory, her first novel, was released in 2023.

You Can Find Her At:

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