A Half-Built Garden

EPUB, 352 pages

English language

Published July 4, 2022 by Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom.

ISBN:
9781250210975

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (13 reviews)

On a warm March night in 2083, Judy Wallach-Stevens wakes to a warning of unknown pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. She heads out to check what she expects to be a false alarm--and stumbles upon the first alien visitors to Earth. These aliens have crossed the galaxy to save humanity, convinced that the people of Earth must leave their ecologically-ravaged planet behind and join them among the stars. And if humanity doesn't agree, they may need to be saved by force.

The watershed networks aren't ready to give up on Earth. Decades ago, they rose up to exile the last corporations to a few artificial islands, escape the dominance of nation-states, and reorganize humanity around the hope of keeping their world liveable. By sharing the burden of decision-making, they've started to heal the wounded planet.

But now corporations, nation-states, and networks all vie to represent humanity to these powerful new …

4 editions

Very interesting book, which I don't read as optimistic at all

No rating

Content warning Major plot and worldbuilding spoilers

Great Concepts; Poor Story

3 stars

I am torn on this book. The author has so many wonderful ideas and the book is completely worth reading for that alone. On the other side though, I feel she did not do a very good job of building a story to showcase those ideas. At times it felt like the ideas were running the entire narrative, causing characters to behave oddly out of pattern just to move the story on to the next idea. Reading this often felt like a grind to get to the end, but I kept turning pages because the concepts were so engaging.

Good ideas inhabiting a challenging story

3 stars

I wanted to like the story but had trouble with the implausibilities. Interesting themes like algorithmic governance, ecological integration with technology, and collaborative family redefinition kept me going and were ultimately more rewarding.

Queer Jewish first contact story

5 stars

A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys is a beautiful, extremely Jewish, super queer story about a diverse future world facing first contact not as an alien invasion, but as something possibly more threatening: a well-intentioned helper, certain in their knowledge of what help is needed before ever setting foot on the planet.

what follows is high stakes negotiations, not just with the aliens, but also between different factions of humans (the watersheds, the corporations and the old state powers) and within factions and families. the watersheds might be healing planet earth, but the corporations still haven't learned that infinite growth isn't possible, and they everything the new visitors are offering (and more)

I won't spoil the story, but you should read this is you like complicated family dynamics that remind you of your own, complex characters with flaws and passions, weird (and interesting) gender stuff, fraught dinner parties (including a …

I want to see more of this Garden

4 stars

I've found myself reading more Climate Fiction recently, not because I've been searching it out, I don't think, but because it's so much on everyone's mind that more is getting published. In any case, I would not have expected to enjoy it, but I've had a recent run of "climate fiction" that I would describe as optimistic. Possibly, it used to be that it felt like the urgent agenda re: The Climate was convincing everyone it was really that bad, but now it feels like the urgent agenda is convincing people that there is something to be done about it.

In any case, A Half Built Garden falls into the latter camp, but it is also a first contact story, which I am predisposed to like. In this story, the Earth is covered by autonomous but interconnected "Dandelion Networks" who work to restore Earth's ecology and strictly measure out their …

uneven for me

3 stars

Does a lovely job portraying a decentralized, nerdy, queer, ecologically-attentive near future both recognizable and made deeply alien through first-contact... even as a semi-utopic didactic depiction, I wish it were a better story, the stakes and conflicts wobble erratically between gray and absolute to an overall weaker place.

A Half-Built Garden

4 stars

There's really a lot to like here for fans of Story of Your Life/Arrival, Becky Chambers, and/or Adrian Tchaikovsky. I particularly like this take on the nearish future of technology for communication and community decision-making.

I felt like it got a bit preachy at times around the subject of distributed consensus governance, but this is a minor, subjective nitpick.

Queer solarpunk first-contact sci-fi

4 stars

As the title says: queer solarpunk first-contact sci-fi!

Recommended for anyone that liked:

  • the first book of the Wanderer series by Becky Chambers
  • for anyone solar-curious
  • for nerds with kids
  • for nerds without kids
  • for fans of peer-to-peer mesh networks (yes, really)

It definitely has some weird bits, not necessarily in a negative sense. I enjoyed this a bunch and kept telling people about during my travels in the past weeks—so that's probably a better recommendation indicator than anything!

The author even coined a potential subgenre in describing the book: diaperpunk!

Review of 'A Half-Built Garden' on 'Storygraph'

No rating

I get so tired of the narrative that humans are always going to choose the worst and most selfish means of planet stewardship, and this book is tired of it too! It’s one of those novels I put down and immediately begin longing for its vision of the future’s so badly it feels like I’ve lost something tangible. How much time do we have to get the watershed networks and dandelion networks underway and beat back the corporations? I’m ready to meet some aliens. 

Really wonderful speculative fiction

5 stars

Wow this story blew me away. The future that the author paints and the way that the dandelion networks operate is really a true work of art. I loved the characters, the themes, and the perspective of this book. It gave me a spike in my already-elevated levels of climate anxiety right in time for the Inflation Reduction Act to get passed, so it coincidentally made that win much sweeter (even though that bill isn't perfect).

Giving the book 4.5 stars instead ofb5 because I felt a bit of a disconnect between my reading style and the authors writing style that made it difficult to comprehend some sentences on a first read. Nothing too difficult, just a bit of a disconnect where I had to read sentences a few times and it knocked me out of the reading flow.

This book is really beautiful because it does what we need …

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rated it

4 stars

Subjects

  • Science Fiction
  • Aliens
  • Speculative Fiction

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