The Red Scholar's Wake by Aliette de Bodard

The Red Scholar’s Wake

Next: A Fire Born of Exile

From the author of the Xuya universe comes a rich space opera and an intensely soft romance

When tech scavenger Xích Si is captured and imprisoned by the infamous pirates of the Red Banner, she expects to be tortured or killed. Instead, their leader, Rice Fish, makes Xích Si an utterly incredible proposition: an offer of marriage.

Both have their reasons for this arrangement: Xích Si needs protection; Rice Fish, a sentient spaceship, needs a technical expert to investigate the death of her first wife, the Red Scholar. That’s all there is to it.

But as the interstellar war against piracy rages on and their own investigation reaches a dire conclusion, the two of them discover that their arrangement has evolved into something much less business-focused and more personal…and tender. And maybe the best thing that’s ever happened to either of them—but only if they can find a way to survive together.

Finalist for the 2023 Locus Award for Best Novel
Finalist for the 2023 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel

Finalist for the 2022 British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel


"'The Red Scholar’s Wake' spins a thrilling yarn about pirate rivalries and epic battles, while proving a more than worthy addition to the canon of post-human space opera. And the romance is really, really hot. You’ll want to read this one twice: First to hold your breath as these two wives discover each other. And second to soak up all the clever ideas and lovely moments that feel totally human, even in this star-spanning context."

The Washington Post

"With a unique world, a thought-provoking plot and a fragile, achingly believable relationship forming against the odds in the midst of rampant inequality and ever-present danger, this is a perfect novel for readers wanting emotional complexity, warmth and heartache in their space opera."

British Fantasy Society

"Aliette’s prose is outstanding. It is descriptive and evocative without being overwrought, it is witty and full of emotion. Every character, every scene comes to life immediately and plastically, drawing the reader into this world of space pirates, family biological and found and relationships of all sorts....I could not recommend The Red Scholar’s Wake more."

Grimdark Magazine

"While bringing together two such unlikely lovers seems to be one of the most common conventions of romance, de Bodard places the melodrama against the backdrop of flat-out space opera, which she excels at."

Locus Magazine

"But beyond the romance, The Red Scholar's Wake also shines both when it comes to the action packed mystery of unravelling the Red Scholar's death, and in the wider implications about piracy, freedom and emancipation which that plot entails"

Nerds of a Feather


Katee Robert, NYT bestselling author of Neon Gods

"So romantic I may simply perish."

Tasha Suri, author of The Jasmine Throne

“The Red Scholar’s Wake is a fizzingly inventive space opera, quite unlike anything I’ve encountered before, and told with style, grace, and a big dose of heart. SF is lucky to have Aliette de Bodard.”

Alastair Reynolds, Sunday Times bestselling author

“The Red Scholar’s Wake takes you on an exhilarating dive into space piracy with passion, politics, dazzling settings, and-even better-a profound core of love transcending hopelessness that rings throughout the story.”

Everina Maxwell, author of WINTER’S ORBIT

"An epic tale of piracy and romance."

Gareth L. Powell, award-winning author of Stars and Bones

“Confident, sexy, and touching–The Red Scholar’s Wake gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘star-crossed lovers’!”

Max Gladstone, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author

"[A] novel that’s richly textured and full of wonder....the pay-off is an intriguing, compelling character study that’s gentle on the face of things and deeply powerful beneath the surface."

Track of Words

"[G]enuinely it’s one of the most creative science fiction worlds I’ve come across. One you do not want to miss out on."

Reads Rainbow

"I give The Red Scholar’s Wake 4,5 stars. It’s a thrilling story about love, family, and loyalty, but also rebellion, going against expectations, and change. As always, it’s well-written in Aliette’s incredible voice."


"[T]here is no denying that The Red Scholar’s Wake is a fantastical, action-drenched work of fiction that should appeal to a wide-ranging audience. The author’s command of imagery, ceremony, and emotion throughout the narrative is evident, keeping all the threads from flying apart, and bringing her main characters—battle-worn and somewhat unsteady—to the cusp of a very promising forever."

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