Being a translator is difficult at the best of times – knowing multiple languages so thoroughly in order to be able to translate in real time – we can only imagine the challenges ahead when we make contact with intelligent life from new worlds and author Eddie Robson has imagined this for us in the entertaining mystery, Drunk on All Your Strange New Words.
Lydia is a translator, somewhat new to the business, but one of the top translators in the business. The Logi are a peaceful race but they do not communicate with spoken words. Instead, they communicate telepathically using symbols and ideas rather than words.
Lydia is assigned to a Logi who has been nicknamed Fitz, a cultural attaché for the alien race. Despite the challenges of translating for the Logi, Lydia enjoys working with Fitz. But when he is murdered, Lydia is the number one suspect and her defense is shaky given that she can’t remember anything from that night.
This is a very interesting book – I’m rating moderately well because the bottom line is that I enjoyed the read. The two main characters (Lydia and Fitz) are nicely paired and although there isn’t a lot of depth to either of them, we do feel like we get to know them (as much as possible, given one of them dies).
The world-building is a little shallow – we don’t really get much information about the Logi or how the relationship between them and humans have developed. This is something that would be nice to know a little better, but we also need to realize – this is a murder mystery first and scifi story second.
(Make no mistake … there are authors who write fantastic scifi mysteries, where the two genres play equally in the story.)
But what makes this book really stand out is the CTPP (Cool Things Per Page) – and even at that, it’s not the number of CTPP, but the quality of it.
“On her first day at the London School of Thought Language (LSTL) they told her that processing the language in your brain didn’t make you drunk but it did make you feel drunk, a distinction Lydia found hard to grasp: drunkenness is a feeling, so what’s the difference between feeling drunk and being drunk? They explained that from a biological perspective it was very different because your body wasn’t dealing with toxins, and the process didn’t damage your body in the same way alcohol did. So it was like getting drunk with no downside? Awesome.”
So … translating in this ‘thought’-language makes the translator feel drunk the longer they work at the translating – hence Lydia’s failing to remember what actually happened.
It’s a great concept and the story is written well, if a bit simply. It would be nice to revisit this world, with Lydia, and get a little more history in the course of the story.
Looking for a good book? Drunk on All Your Strange New Words by Eddie Robson is a light, fun, scifi mystery based on a really interesting concept.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Drunk on All Your Strange New Words
author: Eddie Robson
hardcover, 277 pages