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Rosebud

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“An elegant, elegiac examination of identity, fictionality, God and humanity itself”—Tamsyn Muir 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 “An elegant, elegiac examination of identity, fictionality, God and humanity itself”—Tamsyn Muir 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.


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“An elegant, elegiac examination of identity, fictionality, God and humanity itself”—Tamsyn Muir 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 “An elegant, elegiac examination of identity, fictionality, God and humanity itself”—Tamsyn Muir 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.

30 review for Rosebud

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    1.5 stars rounded up If bizarre, abstract sci-fi akin to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is your thing, then you should check out Rosebud. Unfortunately it really isn't mine and I didn't particularly enjoy reading this. It's a novella about the crew of a spaceship, except that the ship is super tiny and the crew are mostly AI with unusual forms (like a bunch of hands, or a balloon). They encounter a mysterious sphere and try to investigate, but things get weird with space, time, and memory. The s 1.5 stars rounded up If bizarre, abstract sci-fi akin to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is your thing, then you should check out Rosebud. Unfortunately it really isn't mine and I didn't particularly enjoy reading this. It's a novella about the crew of a spaceship, except that the ship is super tiny and the crew are mostly AI with unusual forms (like a bunch of hands, or a balloon). They encounter a mysterious sphere and try to investigate, but things get weird with space, time, and memory. The setting is a dystopian, capitalist, conservative future where queer people are even more oppressed than they are now. And I appreciate the nods to addressing things like trans identity, but it's all scattered within this bizarre and somewhat nonlinear story that didn't really hit for me. That said, some readers love this sort of thing, so if that's you, maybe give it a shot. I received an advance copy of this book for review via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ellis

    I had a lot of big feelings about this tiny book, mainly centered around how while I think Cornell has some interesting ideas, the hope-tinged ending doesn't necessarily pull everything together, and I also wasn't prepared to witness a trans woman being executed by the state and it bummed me out a lot. One's expected motley crew of space travelers includes sentient digital constructs who manifest as, for example, a ball of hands, a swarm of insects, and an enraged balloon. During the course of t I had a lot of big feelings about this tiny book, mainly centered around how while I think Cornell has some interesting ideas, the hope-tinged ending doesn't necessarily pull everything together, and I also wasn't prepared to witness a trans woman being executed by the state and it bummed me out a lot. One's expected motley crew of space travelers includes sentient digital constructs who manifest as, for example, a ball of hands, a swarm of insects, and an enraged balloon. During the course of their unexplained indentured "work" for the Company, they run across a weird space ball, automatically assume that it's a bad scene as one naturally should, and experience some ship malfunctions and memory losses that cement that assumption. I don't know if I fully understood the function of the space ball beyond its role in advancing the plot; during their interactions with it, we learn why these constructs are being punished on the Rosebud through flashbacks that are intriguing (Bob), confusing (Haunt), and upsetting (Diana, Quin, Huge). The space ball seems like it has a benevolent, perhaps even revolutionary purpose and it can manipulate time in a manner I found extremely cool, but I think I would've appreciated a few more pages to flesh things out, especially Haunt's ambiguous last thoughts.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ReadingWryly

    3.5/4 stars "A scream disguised as a giggle," a blurb by Peter Watts, is the perfect way to describe this hopeful sci-fi novella. The characters in this story are the stars of the show, each distinct and formidable in their own right, they will weasel their way into your heart. The themes are everything "now," even though it is sci-fi and set in a dystopian future. It is very much a mirror into what our current social and political struggles could, and do represent. The more you get to know the c 3.5/4 stars "A scream disguised as a giggle," a blurb by Peter Watts, is the perfect way to describe this hopeful sci-fi novella. The characters in this story are the stars of the show, each distinct and formidable in their own right, they will weasel their way into your heart. The themes are everything "now," even though it is sci-fi and set in a dystopian future. It is very much a mirror into what our current social and political struggles could, and do represent. The more you get to know the characters and understand how they've ended up on this ship together, the more you are forced to acknowledge the parallels between our world and theirs. This was an extremely quick read at 107 pages, though I will admit I had to read the final chapter three times before I understood what had actually happened. The ending would have been more impactful were it slightly more straight forward in regard to the verbiage used in wrapping up the story. I also had a bit of a hard time comprehending the writing style and sentence structuring, which slowed me down at first. There is an aggressive use of punctuation which took some getting used to, but after about 20 pages or so I had it down. Overall this was an extremely creative way to tell an important story, and it's definitely worth the read!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    Paul Cornell clearly liked the short-novel-which-lots-of-people-insist-on-calling-novella length he used for the Lychford series, because he deploys it again for his new SF outing – and thank heavens publishing economics now allow that, because I can easily picture the saggy slog Rosebud would have become if stretched to twice or thrice this natural length, or how much impact would have been lost were it a short story. Advanced blurbs included praise from the likes of Tamsyn Muir, Adrian Tchaiko Paul Cornell clearly liked the short-novel-which-lots-of-people-insist-on-calling-novella length he used for the Lychford series, because he deploys it again for his new SF outing – and thank heavens publishing economics now allow that, because I can easily picture the saggy slog Rosebud would have become if stretched to twice or thrice this natural length, or how much impact would have been lost were it a short story. Advanced blurbs included praise from the likes of Tamsyn Muir, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Daniel Abraham, but for the front cover he's gone with the more niche, less buzzy Peter Watts. Still, you can see why: "A scream disguised as a giggle" is the perfect summary. Think Watts' Freeze-Frame Revolution, but replayed as a sitcom performed at gunpoint. “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." And if you think that's ridiculous, just wait until they need bodies for a mission off the ship. Like so many SF crews before them, they're exploring space on behalf of the Company when they find something deeply puzzling out in the black. However, in defiance of science fiction convention but compliance with dull old science, both the ship itself and the mysterious object it's investigating are microscopic. Which is not to say the discoveries of big dumb object stories are unavailable here; between how much of the story takes place in digital spaces and the exotic technologies in play, there's plenty of exploring to be done. At times the story feels like the Metaverse if it weren't just a place for Zuckerberg to look even creepier – but was still a dystopian vision of corporate control lightly sheathed in a veneer of user choice. The crew are all coded to love the Company, even if some of them have set the obligatory thoughts to fast-forward, this being about the closest to actual rebellion permitted even to the designated rebel – at least until something goes awry. One thing which surprised me was that the book has a trigger warning for incidents of in-world transphobia, which are present and horrible (and to my mind not even that necessary: we already get that the corporate regime is nightmarish, but if anything I'd find it even more plausible as the sort of behemoth happy to profit off Pride branding while the world goes to shit). But there's no equivalent warning regarding coercion or gaslighting, both much more prevalent, with none of the characters' thoughts entirely their own and even their memories not to be trusted. Now, unless one is dealing with the most recalcitrant litfic bores or genre traitors, it should obviously come as no surprise to say that science fiction can use non-human characters to say important things about the human condition. But – and again, this is where the Watts parallel is strong – what Cornell is mostly doing here is using our descendants to show us quite how wretched that condition is, a Larkinesque cycle of abuse passed down from prehistory to posthumanity, with the species' addiction to hierarchy a big part of it. Even our attempts to get around that proving predictably prone to grotesque failure; at one point a character looks upward "in the same way humans have always addressed assumed higher powers, which says a lot about where humans have always assumed they are on the food chain, when actually they're on top." This is not the first time I've seen the problem with the whole punching up/down discourse, namely that everyone on some level thinks they're the underdog, but this was one of the times I've really felt it as a cold hand in my chest. One way or another, the characters all turn out to have origins tied to the stupid, nasty things that humans do when they feel threatened, which is always. This is a future where we've got a little further out, though not beyond the solar system, because we're stupid chimps who lack the attention span, though maybe that's for the best, because we're still fucking up everything we touch: "there is global warming on Mars now. And there are whole moons which have vanished into the furnaces of Earth. And there is only so much water in comets." Set against that, the faint hope of the crew that they might actually have made that elusive, definite, first contact, although "over the centuries Haunt has watched the human condition, the condition of actual humans, as it went from hoping and dreading alien contact in equal measure to feeling...he thinks as a mass they no longer feel they deserve it. That aliens would be disappointed in them." Hopefully it isn't a spoiler to note that certain themes from Cornell's Saucer Country recur in what follows, but either way, all of it is told from the point of view of the Earth-descended. "And so here he is, partly written and partly accidental. Here they all are. Ridiculous. Suspended. Falling toward a thing from somewhere else with only an enormous pile of inherited trivia to protect them, trivia they do not own but have adopted and wear wrapped around them as if it could possibly keep them warm." Relatable content, in other words. In an interview about the book, Cornell said "I always have felt the future is better than the past, on a personal basis, and that dystopias are just hurdles on the way to better things", and by the end the story does work around to that, but I confess that's not what will stay with me from Rosebud, not least because the elements required for the resolution seem so much further beyond our reach than the ones already leading us towards the preceding horrorshow. Anyway, that was a massive downer, wasn't it? So instead, let's finish up on the bit where Cornell spells bagsy 'bagsee' instead. Post-human argot, or regional variation? Either way, it ain't right (I say in jest, having just finished a novel which reminds us how we're such a nasty pack of beasts that that sort of sentiment can so easily lead to centuries of bloodshed – would 'bagsee' really be much dafter than 'filioque'?).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Fantastic. :) Novella? AI crew encountering mystery object in space? Peter Watts blurb? I didn't really need any convincing when I purchased this recently. I don't think I was even aware of the LGBTQ+ angle, which is prominent, to say the least. The book opens with a trigger warning: "Please note, this book includes a depiction of in-universe institutionalized transphobia that may be triggering for some readers." The setup is we have a crew of AIs aboard what's basically a sort of mining ship, crui Fantastic. :) Novella? AI crew encountering mystery object in space? Peter Watts blurb? I didn't really need any convincing when I purchased this recently. I don't think I was even aware of the LGBTQ+ angle, which is prominent, to say the least. The book opens with a trigger warning: "Please note, this book includes a depiction of in-universe institutionalized transphobia that may be triggering for some readers." The setup is we have a crew of AIs aboard what's basically a sort of mining ship, cruising through Saturn's rings and nudging valuable stuff toward its eventual collection by "the Company". The ship itself is not a character and not meant to be sentient as far as I can tell. The setting is a dystopia. A very hellish dystopia for LGBTQIA people in particular, with more in common with V for Vendetta than Watts' Blindsight. Worse before the company replaced governments than after perhaps, but still very bad. Various governments before the Company existed didn’t like such as those in the picture being thought capable of romance. And the Company rather put all such laws aside and ceased to fetishize them, while . . . leaving them in place. I'm not sure how much to say about it, because the gradual reveal of the characters' identities and backstories are really the delight here. It's very much a story of identity and free will and conditioning. The "contact" portion is interesting and provides some important plot mechanics, but is not the star of the show. The viewpoint character is named Haunt: Haunt loves the Company. He can’t help but do so. His heart is copyrighted to them. But he’s also such a rebel, an exciting loner who lives for adventure. So he hates the contorted feelings flooding him now, feelings of drama rather than adventure. The media he consumes contain both sensations, or at least they did for a certain time in human media history, when years still had so many numbers attached to them. But he doesn’t like it when it starts to feel like those emotions have anything to do with him. See that "He can't help but do so." That's literal. These "AI" people are enslaved and don't even have complete control of their own thoughts. Haunt is perhaps the least traumatized of the crew. (view spoiler)[The formerly biological ones did not become AIs of their own free will. (hide spoiler)] A brief who's who of some of the crew in spoiler tags, not all, and honestly I'd recommend going in without even knowing this much: (view spoiler)[ Haunt: sentient character from an old video game. Bob: sentient Russian troll bot. Quin: a swarm of bees. no, I mean literally, not just in appearance. I'm not going to say anything about Huge or Diana. (hide spoiler)] There's a happy ending. :)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    Paul Cornell is probably now best known as the author of excellent urban fantasies such as London Falling, but he is well grounded in writing science fiction and in this novella demonstrates the impressive range of his imagination. I need to say up front that Rosebud is a really interesting piece of writing, and the reason I've only given it three stars is that I am not sure that it works. Rosebud is a tiny spacecraft, less than a millimetre across, crewed by five AI entities that we first meet i Paul Cornell is probably now best known as the author of excellent urban fantasies such as London Falling, but he is well grounded in writing science fiction and in this novella demonstrates the impressive range of his imagination. I need to say up front that Rosebud is a really interesting piece of writing, and the reason I've only given it three stars is that I am not sure that it works. Rosebud is a tiny spacecraft, less than a millimetre across, crewed by five AI entities that we first meet in a range of forms from a goth to a sweary balloon to a creature constructed only of hands. These entities are already in an uncertain relationship with the distant Earth – now, more concerns are thrown their way by the arrival of what appears to be another tiny spaceship, perhaps of alien origin. Over the years, very few SF books have successfully tackled truly alien protagonists. Here we have the alien but (to some extent) anthropomorphic AI entities plus that initially inscrutable new arrival. In tackling a topic like this, Cornell has really tried something extraordinary, which must be lauded. Sadly, though, for me the experiment didn’t work. Perhaps the reason that we don’t usually get truly alien protagonists is that they are difficult to identify with. I couldn’t engage with the AI characters – in fact I nearly gave up reading half way though. I’m glad I persevered, but for me the process of working through this novella was more an intellectual reward than true enjoyment. It probably doesn’t help that, presumably as part of underlining that alien feel, we are thrown in at the deep end at the start, and in the interaction with the new micro-ship, it’s quite difficult to follow what is happening. Another potential issue is the use of the easily misunderstood physics concept of time crystals, which are nowhere near as impressive as they sound, as a MacGuffin. I don’t require totally solid science in SF – it’s the ‘fiction’ part that’s key, but this is a topic where the science itself is extremely obscure, so it piles on extra potential for a lack of engagement. (It was also somewhat eyebrow raising that somehow the AI’s were able to assume nano-scale human bodies – biological organisms simply can’t physically scale to that degree – but that’s more the traditionally acceptable face of unlikely science in science fiction.) I don’t want to put anyone off trying Rosebud. It’s daring and original. But it wasn’t for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    The nitty-gritty: An unusual sci-fi mystery with quirky characters, Rosebud is both entertaining and mind-bending. I’ve read some weird books in my time, but Rosebud might be the very weirdest! And I say that with fondness, because I really did enjoy it. Paul Cornell takes ideas like how an individual's history shapes them, mixes in absurdist humor, adds a splash of high concept hard SF ideas, and creates strange but lovable characters. Somehow it all worked, although I’m not sure how! The story r The nitty-gritty: An unusual sci-fi mystery with quirky characters, Rosebud is both entertaining and mind-bending. I’ve read some weird books in my time, but Rosebud might be the very weirdest! And I say that with fondness, because I really did enjoy it. Paul Cornell takes ideas like how an individual's history shapes them, mixes in absurdist humor, adds a splash of high concept hard SF ideas, and creates strange but lovable characters. Somehow it all worked, although I’m not sure how! The story revolves around the exploratory vessel Rosebud, which is only 1mm wide (yes, I thought that was a typo in my ARC but no, this is a TINY spaceship!) The Rosebud is crewed by five digital individuals with different appearances: a balloon named Bob, a ball of hands named Huge, a goth named Haunt, a swarm of insects named Quin and a transwoman named Diana. When the Rosebud and its crew encounter a strange black sphere, they decide to investigate. What follows is an odd adventure with time jumps, forgotten memories and plenty of self discovery. The story is rather light on plot and focuses instead on ideas and the characters, and the characters and humor were by far my favorite element. As I was reading, I was imagining this odd group of individuals as existing on a real ship. But when you stop to think about the size of the Rosebud and therefore the size of its inhabitants, you can imagine things turn bizarre very quickly. It was better for me to imagine what each one looked like and how they interacted in real space with each other. All five characters have been crewing the Rosebud for 300 years, so they know each other pretty well. The dialog is hysterically funny, and I especially loved Bob, who loves to swear: "I'm really gonna fuck something up," says Bob. "I will find something. And...I...will...fuck it up." "You almost certainly will," agrees. Diana. There are some nice emotional moments, especially when Diana remembers how she was persecuted for going against her assigned gender. One of the other characters “sees” an old family photo, which triggers a feeling of sorrow for them. I loved these glimpses into the emotional memories of the characters, who are really nothing but digital data in their present state. The story is a bit of a mystery, as the crew is trying to figure out what the sphere is and why it appeared to them. The reader is just as much in the dark as the characters are—why does the sphere seem to evoke long buried memories about their lives before they came aboard the Rosebud? Are these real flashbacks or merely alternate lives? By the end of the story, the characters seem have a better understanding of their place in the universe, although I was hoping for a bit more clarity.  Still, I enjoyed the journey, and now I’m curious to read more from Paul Cornell. Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Rosebud was super creative and bizarre and unlike anything I’ve read before. This contained a lot of mind-bending science fiction that required a lot of stretching of my brain, and a lot of out-of-the-box and non-concrete thinking. The only two authors I can think to compare this to are Douglas Adams, with his random hilarity, and Martha Well’s Murderbot Diaries series, as the characters in this book are somewhat of a cross between AI and humanity. Overall an entertaining and quick read, coming i Rosebud was super creative and bizarre and unlike anything I’ve read before. This contained a lot of mind-bending science fiction that required a lot of stretching of my brain, and a lot of out-of-the-box and non-concrete thinking. The only two authors I can think to compare this to are Douglas Adams, with his random hilarity, and Martha Well’s Murderbot Diaries series, as the characters in this book are somewhat of a cross between AI and humanity. Overall an entertaining and quick read, coming in at 107 pages! Thank you to Tordotcom for this gifted copy!! ⚠️Trigger Warnings: Violence against transgender people.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    Rosebud is such a bizarre little story! I won't lie to you, I am still not sure I completely get it? But I enjoyed the characters, and the commentary, so overall it was a win. I don't usually like not knowing what the heck is happening in a book, but I think this one was more or less supposed to make the reader feel that way, so I was able to live with it. In other words, it didn't necessarily make me feel stupid just because I didn't wholly get it, and I am a fan of that. The five consciousnesse Rosebud is such a bizarre little story! I won't lie to you, I am still not sure I completely get it? But I enjoyed the characters, and the commentary, so overall it was a win. I don't usually like not knowing what the heck is happening in a book, but I think this one was more or less supposed to make the reader feel that way, so I was able to live with it. In other words, it didn't necessarily make me feel stupid just because I didn't wholly get it, and I am a fan of that. The five consciousnesses that compose the crew of the ship are not there of their own free will, but they are forced to work for the powerful Company for hundreds of years. And we find that they have been conscripted into this existence because of their identities. Those identities seemingly didn't jibe with whatever the Company deemed acceptable, hence this punishment. It is obviously upsetting and wildly unfair, but the author does a tremendous job of making you feel how unjust this is, which is the commentary I am here for. I don't want to say too much, because at its core, the story is certainly a mystery. The reader is uncovering facets of the world and the crew just as the crew is. They have forgotten so much of their pasts, and as they seek answers about the unknown sphere, they also seek answers about their own lives and their own world. They do so with a lot of humor and heart. Bottom Line: A delightfully kooky ride with a lot of serious commentary to boot. You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chessa

    This was such a strange, absurd, and fun little novella! I kind of kept wishing for a cast of characters list in the beginning (possibly illustrated??) because even though there are only 5 characters, they all start out as digital AI representations and are…*quite* diverse in their representations (ball of hands named Huge If True, Huge for short, looking at you) 😅 . It didn’t help that I kept putting this one down and picking it up later and going, “Wait, which one is the swarm of insects and w This was such a strange, absurd, and fun little novella! I kind of kept wishing for a cast of characters list in the beginning (possibly illustrated??) because even though there are only 5 characters, they all start out as digital AI representations and are…*quite* diverse in their representations (ball of hands named Huge If True, Huge for short, looking at you) 😅 . It didn’t help that I kept putting this one down and picking it up later and going, “Wait, which one is the swarm of insects and which one is the balloon?” If you like the big ideas of science fiction, meta-verse/time travel and choices vs fate, I think this one fits the bill. It sounds heavy, but the execution is just kind of wonder-filled and cheeky-funny. Thanks to Tordotcom and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. All views mine alone.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I read this courtesy of NetGalley. It's out in April 2022. Well that was... a ride. Cornell's novella follows in a trend from the last few years of exploring issues of humanity through the lens of AIs. I mean, I know that authors have pretty much always been exploring what it means to be human through the medium of the robot, right back to Metropolis; but I feel like it's somehow become more pointed, or nuanced, or something, in the last 5 or so years. Maybe I'm just being shortsighted; maybe I I read this courtesy of NetGalley. It's out in April 2022. Well that was... a ride. Cornell's novella follows in a trend from the last few years of exploring issues of humanity through the lens of AIs. I mean, I know that authors have pretty much always been exploring what it means to be human through the medium of the robot, right back to Metropolis; but I feel like it's somehow become more pointed, or nuanced, or something, in the last 5 or so years. Maybe I'm just being shortsighted; maybe I can blame Murderbot for this perception. Anyway, Rosebud is a spacecraft orbiting Saturn - a spacecraft about 1mm in diameter, crewed by five AIs of varying (and really very varying) provenance. They encounter an anomaly, and they investigate. In doing so, they are confronted both by their own identities, as memories are brought to the fore, and by the consequences of the anomaly - what it's doing to them and what it might mean for the humans back on Earth. To investigate, the AIs are forced to be embodied - and as is generally the case, bodies have consequences. I can't quite describe the style this is written in. It's present tense; it's third person, but the POV favours one character, Haunt, in particular. It also feels more spoken, I think, than written; perhaps formalised internal monologue? For instance: "That's how this is supposed to do. Doing it on their own is above their pay grades. Not that they're paid. This is big people stuff" (p14). It's certainly very readable - I powered through it in a sitting, despite some of their narrative weirdness that occurs thanks to the anomaly. There's some amusing banter between the five characters - they are very different, with wildly different expectations and desires and perspectives, and they're not always interested in cooperating with each other. If you're a fan of Paul Cornell, this will probably work very well for you. It's not my favourite Cornell (that would be the Lychford series), but I'm certainly glad I got a chance to read it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    I've read some strange books in my time but this one takes the cake. Don't get me wrong, I love weird things and I enjoyed this one a lot. Paul Cornell's writing had me smiling (that's good because it's been a hard two weeks) This book is light on the plot and focuses more on the characters. I'd say it's hard to pack emotional moments into a 100-page book, but Paul manages to do it. This creative book will make your brain stretch, in a good way! I've read some strange books in my time but this one takes the cake. Don't get me wrong, I love weird things and I enjoyed this one a lot. Paul Cornell's writing had me smiling (that's good because it's been a hard two weeks) This book is light on the plot and focuses more on the characters. I'd say it's hard to pack emotional moments into a 100-page book, but Paul manages to do it. This creative book will make your brain stretch, in a good way!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rick Brose

    I like to leave at least a short review for everything I read, but this book has me stumped on what to say. It is weird. The characters are bizarre. The concept is strange. I do not know if I fully understood everything that happened, but I feel like I got enough to piece it all together. Cool ideas, good writing... but it is just kind of a brain bender.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tad

    A balloon, a goth, a science aristocrat, a ball of hands, and a swarm of insects walk onto a spaceship. Stop me if you've heard this one before. Well, that's unlikely since this premise sprang from the fertile mind of Paul Cornell in Rosebud. Five digital beings are on a small spaceship in the outer part of the solar system, surveying rocks and sending useful items back towards the earth when they encounter a mysterious black sphere. Ordinarily, they would receive specific instructions on how to A balloon, a goth, a science aristocrat, a ball of hands, and a swarm of insects walk onto a spaceship. Stop me if you've heard this one before. Well, that's unlikely since this premise sprang from the fertile mind of Paul Cornell in Rosebud. Five digital beings are on a small spaceship in the outer part of the solar system, surveying rocks and sending useful items back towards the earth when they encounter a mysterious black sphere. Ordinarily, they would receive specific instructions on how to proceed, but communication with the Company has been cut off and they are on their own. The crew decides to survey the sphere, which proves to be a little more complicated than anticipated. The sphere changes what they believe about themselves, and perhaps holds secrets about all of humanity. Rosebud is a short novella with big ideas. The crew is interesting not only in their physical appearance but in their personalities and personal histories. The object they encounter forces them to look deep inside themselves as well as examine all of humanity. The mood shifts from light to dark and back again throughout. The novella is short, but it is not a quick read. The ideas are densely packed and this is a story you won't soon forget. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hobart

    ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up) This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader in a quick takes catch-up post, emphasizing pithiness, not thoroghness. --- I...I just don't know what to say about this. It's a clever premise, and Cornell (as one expects) writes well—there are some nice sentences throughout. Basically...I should be singing the praises of this one. And yet... I can't. I don't know why, but I could not convince myself that I was enjoying this. I just didn't respond to any of it. I've been a f ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up) This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader in a quick takes catch-up post, emphasizing pithiness, not thoroghness. --- I...I just don't know what to say about this. It's a clever premise, and Cornell (as one expects) writes well—there are some nice sentences throughout. Basically...I should be singing the praises of this one. And yet... I can't. I don't know why, but I could not convince myself that I was enjoying this. I just didn't respond to any of it. I've been a fan of Cornell's for years, this is just a blip, I'm sure, and I'll be gung-ho about his next work. But this just wasn't for me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    I loved the random weirdness of this well thought-out book. The characters were interesting. The message about a different earth and human beings treatment of earth and diversity and, it seemed to me, focus on video games. It's quite a short story, so therefore it's like a snapshot of "their"lives. Very interesting and unique concept... the only snag is, I'm not a Sci-Fi fan! I loved the random weirdness of this well thought-out book. The characters were interesting. The message about a different earth and human beings treatment of earth and diversity and, it seemed to me, focus on video games. It's quite a short story, so therefore it's like a snapshot of "their"lives. Very interesting and unique concept... the only snag is, I'm not a Sci-Fi fan!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I will forever and always be an absolute sucker for anything hopeful. This book took me on a wild emotional ride today, and I don’t think I was properly ready for it. I don’t know how I could’ve been properly ready for it. But I loved it. It was awful, and brilliant.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Natalie aka Tannat

    2.5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

    Thank you so very much for the ending.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tom Campbell

    Five diverse sentient artificial intelligences which make up the crew of the spaceship Rosebud gather to investigate a mysterious object, leading to an extraordinary journey of exploration of not only the object but their own identities. I've been aware of Paul Cornell's work for years, initially from his prose and televised work on "Doctor Who", but also from his writing on the world of comics. This high-level novella utilizes concepts and tools from both. The story explores the identities and l Five diverse sentient artificial intelligences which make up the crew of the spaceship Rosebud gather to investigate a mysterious object, leading to an extraordinary journey of exploration of not only the object but their own identities. I've been aware of Paul Cornell's work for years, initially from his prose and televised work on "Doctor Who", but also from his writing on the world of comics. This high-level novella utilizes concepts and tools from both. The story explores the identities and level of self-determination of the principal, eccentric characters through the mechanism of the mysterious object and their attempts to explore, understand and communicate with it. The tale plays with the concept of reality, both virtual and physical, often leaving the reader unsure which they might be dealing with, but always keeping things relatable through the humor provided by the five main characters and their interactions. There are fun Easter eggs through the story for fans of science fiction and related genres, as well. As with all good science fiction, there is also some relevant social commentary, as well. Thanks to Tor and Netgalley for the opportunity to preview this title.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Teddy

    I received an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I felt pretty conflicted about this one. On one hand, there were things I really liked. I thought the concept and its execution was pretty original, and I really enjoyed the character dynamics. However, I didn't vibe with a lot of other parts. The madcap-ery reminded me of Hitchhiker's Guide and Space Opera, but didn't quite land for me. (I think I may have enjoyed it more in an audio format, similarly to Space Opera.) It was pre I received an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I felt pretty conflicted about this one. On one hand, there were things I really liked. I thought the concept and its execution was pretty original, and I really enjoyed the character dynamics. However, I didn't vibe with a lot of other parts. The madcap-ery reminded me of Hitchhiker's Guide and Space Opera, but didn't quite land for me. (I think I may have enjoyed it more in an audio format, similarly to Space Opera.) It was pretty confusing, especially since the characters' embodiments & backgrounds weren't easily differentiable. Also it whizzed along a bit faster than I'd have liked -- I definitely don't think this could have been a novel, but I wish it had been a tiny bit longer, just 25-50 pages more, so I could feel more grounded and a tad more explained. Also, the way it handled transphobia (particularly against trans women) felt kinda weird to me. It was clear that Cornell is strongly denouncing the (British) transmisogyny that is becoming alarmly rampant in today's society. But as a trans person, the way it was exhibited was extremely triggering -- first with (view spoiler)[us learning that trans people (trans women in particular) are illegal in this world, (hide spoiler)] and second by (view spoiler)[showing us the public humiliation and murder of a trans woman, the past self of one of our main characters (hide spoiler)] . I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. Negative for sure, but I think because good intentions were a little clumsily executed. (I did very much appreciate the list of cw's at the front of my copy.) All in all, I think it's worth a try -- I do feel like this was a case of this not being the right book for me. Don't know that I'd recommend it, but I do think it's worth giving a shot.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    I like Paul Cornell's work, even when I'm not sure I've entirely gotten the message. Such is the case with Rosebud. It's as if 2001 had been written by John Dickson Carr, perhaps. It's a mystery inside an enigma inside a, well, you get the idea. There are five sentient digital beings who are being punished for crimes against society. Their job is to investigate anomalies. Upon encountering a mysterious sphere, they decide to investigate and then must decide what to do with forbidden knowledge. I I like Paul Cornell's work, even when I'm not sure I've entirely gotten the message. Such is the case with Rosebud. It's as if 2001 had been written by John Dickson Carr, perhaps. It's a mystery inside an enigma inside a, well, you get the idea. There are five sentient digital beings who are being punished for crimes against society. Their job is to investigate anomalies. Upon encountering a mysterious sphere, they decide to investigate and then must decide what to do with forbidden knowledge. I found myself distracted by the physical forms the digital beings took. I suppose that if you've been locked up for several hundred years, you have to take your freedoms where you can, but it didn't really add anything to the story for me, and it made it a bit harder to keep track of who was whom. The characters themselves are interesting, and I wanted to know more about them. The pop culture references were fun. It does seem to be a thing for a lot of books lately, but I have to wonder whether people will really be quoting cult classics several hundred years from now, the way we do, say, Shakespeare. 4/5 stars I received an advance copy from Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This, and other reviews, may be found on Goodreads and my blog, redhatcatreviews.com.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Wow wow wow. I got an advance copy of this novella on NetGalley. It's got big scifi ideas, from quantum entanglement to alien influence on human evolution, as well as social commentary on capitalism, online hate speech, and transphobia (the content warning is accurate). On top of layering all those things, it's also got big heart. Strong recommend. Wow wow wow. I got an advance copy of this novella on NetGalley. It's got big scifi ideas, from quantum entanglement to alien influence on human evolution, as well as social commentary on capitalism, online hate speech, and transphobia (the content warning is accurate). On top of layering all those things, it's also got big heart. Strong recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    PastTheSample

    REVIEW (Twitter style): Rosebud by Paul Cornell No, this isn't a trashy erotic novel where the author uses the most hilarious synonyms (as the name might suggest). I'm not quite sure what else it could be, though. Well, except majorly confusing. If I had to guess, I'd say... 🌈🧵♥️ ...that's it's an attempt at emulating The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...and failing spectacularly. The info dump start about the Rosebud - some spaceship, presumably - left me more confused than informed. Then there was s REVIEW (Twitter style): Rosebud by Paul Cornell No, this isn't a trashy erotic novel where the author uses the most hilarious synonyms (as the name might suggest). I'm not quite sure what else it could be, though. Well, except majorly confusing. If I had to guess, I'd say... 🌈🧵♥️ ...that's it's an attempt at emulating The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...and failing spectacularly. The info dump start about the Rosebud - some spaceship, presumably - left me more confused than informed. Then there was something about a horse??? Why not just start with the part where the presumably-MC thinks he is "first", only for Diana - who, by the way, was literally the only interesting thing about this disaster of a first chapter - to correct that assumption. Judgement: What the F did I just Read FAIL! 3 Stars for Diana's introduction dialogue. Added to that is the -1 Star actual rating for Major Confusion.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Tas

    Read this review and other Science Fiction/Fantasy book reviews at The Quill to Live Rosebud is a word that is unfathomably ingrained within my psyche, even as someone who has never seen Citizen Kane. I am both at once entranced by it, yet so utterly helpless to explain its allure. So, upon seeing a book with the title Rosebud, by Paul Cornwell, I had to pick it up. I barely even read the synopsis before asking for an ARC, that’s just how deep that word runs. When I finally got to the novella, I Read this review and other Science Fiction/Fantasy book reviews at The Quill to Live Rosebud is a word that is unfathomably ingrained within my psyche, even as someone who has never seen Citizen Kane. I am both at once entranced by it, yet so utterly helpless to explain its allure. So, upon seeing a book with the title Rosebud, by Paul Cornwell, I had to pick it up. I barely even read the synopsis before asking for an ARC, that’s just how deep that word runs. When I finally got to the novella, I experienced the same set of nebulous feelings. I both admire it for what it achieves and reaches for, while being put off for what it ultimately is. Rosebud is the story of five AI personalities trapped on a spaceship the size of a pack of gum. They are all under the purview of the all-powerful Company, a purview defined by their 300 year long prison sentence. During their service, they encounter a spherical object in the outer reaches of the solar system and are subsequently tasked with its retrieval. Their ship has other plans and malfunctions, giving the digital crew a chance to push their boundaries a little. So they do the right and proper thing and survey the object themselves, hoping to bring back their findings to the Company for its benefit. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this black sphere also has its own designs, and may just reveal existential truths that neither the crew, nor the Company are prepared for. I have a lot of mixed feelings about Rosebud. They were so mixed, I read the whole thing through twice, re-reading several of the chapters three or four times,in an effort to understand what was going on, and if I was missing something. The novella moves so fast, one has to slow down to take it all in. The dialogue is rapid fire and intermingles with the point of view character’s observations. Time is a nebulous concept for these tiny AI programs, so even the events are happening within fractions of a second. It’s mind boggling to take in on a single read, and luckily it’s short enough that a second or third read through would take less time than a three hundred page story. I’ll start with the negative, as that was mostly my first experience. I did not care for the pop-culture references. I rarely find them engrossing. I was not a fan of the dialogue. I can see how someone might find it funny, but it was a bit tedious for me. Normally, a character like Bob, an angry balloon that consistently swears, would have me chuckling at his ineptitude, but something just peeved me about him. The descriptions of the digital physical space inhabited by the characters were off putting, and I found Cornwell relied too heavily on the physical descriptions to demarcate individual characters and digital spaces that felt confining to the imagination. I imagine it’s particularly hard to realize five distinct characters within a span of one-hundred or so pages, but the shortcuts had me questioning who was doing what and when. It didn’t help that the main character, Haunt, was pretty bland on their own, sticking to the description of goth. The rapid pace of the story smashed against the characters, making the weirder events feel dreamlike and unnecessary – at least for Haunt. The other characters, namely Huge If True and Diana, felt the most coherent of the bunch, which was helpful in understanding the climax. I also found the commentary of “humanity bad” overly general and tiresome, even though it was just a few flippant remarks. After my first reading, my final thoughts were along the lines of, “this is just a better, slightly woke version of the Bobiverse if it collided with 2001: A Space Odyssey.” And I’ll be honest, I can’t tell if I think that’s a good or bad thing. It just sort of is. On re-reading the story though, I found Rosebud a little more interesting. I was able to pull back from a majority of the shenanigans and see the characters a little more for who they were. There were added layers to some of their interactions, especially when you consider their identities and how they were cultivated. Some of the AIs in this book were once people, and their service to The Company on this spaceship called Rosebud is their sentence. What stood out to me the most was the way Cornwell differentiated those who were once human, against those who were always programs. It wasn’t nearly as strong as I would have liked, but the intent is tangible. Haunt still feels flaccid, in the way the other characters don’t, but they feel designed that way. As if they’re supposed to be cool and detached, but it’s not good. Huge If True is determined to reclaim his life, Bob is just meant to be an angry troll, Diana just wants to be herself and Quin, well Quin is a swarm. Cornwell places them in a situation that is just positively dark and delightful. The object they encounter has a passive defense system that operates in the realm of quantum mechanics that is as clever as it is jarring to the reader. Not only does it affect the characters, but Cornwell realizes it within the narrative itself, creating a sense of confusion as events replay themselves depending on how the crew interacts with the object. This is all set up for searching for the meaning of identity in a world consumed by The Company, sprinkled with a history of blatant transphobia (this bit is in universe, not Cornwell’s beliefs). Cornwell attempts to deconstruct the notions of identity, especially in the vein of artificial vs natural identities. This itself is posited through short explorations of gender and sexuality, notions of which are explored through Diana, Huge, and Bob’s respective pasts. Cornwell opts for a “what really is the difference?” ambiguous approach that feels appropriate and earned given the nature of the novella, and leaves the reader with a stunning and mortifying ending. Personally, I wish Rosebud was a wee bit longer so the ideas could gestate within the story a little more. Like I said, it’s a fast read, giving one the opportunity to really dissect it with subsequent reads, but it only reveals so much. I wanted some of the critique, especially the bits aimed at The Company, to feel a little more pointed and built up within the context of the story. A lot of the book relies on passive knowledge and feelings by the reader, making it perfect for those who have that frame of reference, but a little shaky for those who aren’t in the mindset. I enjoyed it much more on my second go around after picking it apart, but still had trouble with it on the whole. Rating: Rosebud 6.5/10 -Alex An ARC of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts on this book are my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    3.5/5 stars Note: I received an ARC of Rosebud from Macmillan/Tor and NetGalley. All thoughts are my own. If you're a fan of weird, creative, deeply original science fiction, then Paul Cornell's new novella, "Rosebud," is worth checking out. A quick, dense read, "Rosebud" is unlike anything I've read in ages. Featuring a group of immediately captivating characters and an absolutely mind-blowing plot, "Rosebud" isn't always an easy read. And it could really benefit from being expanded into a full-l 3.5/5 stars Note: I received an ARC of Rosebud from Macmillan/Tor and NetGalley. All thoughts are my own. If you're a fan of weird, creative, deeply original science fiction, then Paul Cornell's new novella, "Rosebud," is worth checking out. A quick, dense read, "Rosebud" is unlike anything I've read in ages. Featuring a group of immediately captivating characters and an absolutely mind-blowing plot, "Rosebud" isn't always an easy read. And it could really benefit from being expanded into a full-length novel. But when it works, it works very well. Many years in the future, five sentient digital beings crew the Rosebud, a small survey ship searching for material that might prove useful to the Company. On one survey, the crew discovers a strange, smooth black sphere. Upon investigating it, however, strange anomalies begin occurring. Feelings of deja vu, lost memories, and other such weirdness. But the allure of the sphere - and the potential praise that comes with discovering it - proves too much for the crew to resist. And so, the crew of the Rosebud sets out to explore this strange object. And, in the process, their own pasts. Right off the bat, "Rosebud" has a great premise. And Cornell delivers a story worthy of that premise. The problem is that there's just a bit too much all happening at once. Reading "Rosebud" feels like reading a full-length novel, except without any of the breathing room a full-length novel affords. Cornell crams an entire novel's worth of plot into just over a hundred pages. And it frequently shows. It takes a little while for things to get going. But once the ball starts rolling, there's little time for those quiet moments that help readers make sense of the plot. And I feel "Rosebud" really could've benefited from those moments. In these kinds of dense sci-fi stories, you always have to strike a balance between under-explaining and over-explaining things. And unfortunately, "Rosebud" tends to under-explain things - largely because there's simply not enough time for Cornell to delve into the plot in any real detail. And sure, there's fun to be had in stories that just ask you to go with the flow. But given how mind-bending "Rosebud" is, I think the story could've benefitted from a bit more explanation. The prose doesn't help much, either, unfortunately. Written from a present-tense, third-person point-of-view, it often hews closer to stream-of-consciousness style prose than I'd like. Everything's a bit too rambly, sandwiching eye-glazing technobabble in between long passages of description and random thoughts. It ends up being a weird cross between traditional dense sci-fi prose and a more irreverent "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" style. I can see what Cornell was going for, to be sure. And many readers will probably adore how playful the prose is here. But for me, it was just a bit too unbalanced. And I'd have preferred something more straightforward to better help me follow the story. The characters, on the other hand, are easily the best part of "Rosebud." There's a goth named Haunt, a science aristocrat named Diana, a balloon named Bob, a ball of hands named Huge, and a swarm of insects named Quin. And they're all an absolute treat. Cornell makes them immediately engaging, with each character popping to life the moment they first appear. Their relationships feel nuanced and authentic. And their backstories feel lived-in. They're the kind of ensemble you want to spend a lot of time with. And despite the story being primarily from Haunt's perspective, each character feels fully developed and viscerally real. Like the plot, the character arcs could've stood having more time devoted to them. You learn a lot about each character, but it happens fairly quickly and there's not always enough time for the weight of that development to land as well as you'd like it to. But even so, it's the character arcs that make "Rosebud" work as well as it does. Especially as the story progresses and delves deeper into these characters' psyches. Cornell has a gift when it comes to character work - one that's easily visible to anyone who's seen his "Doctor Who" work. And that gift is definitely on display once again here. At the end of the day, "Rosebud" is an enjoyable mixed bag. It's got great characters and a great story, both of which make for a fun read. But it's hard not to feel like the story could've been even better with a longer page count and more room to breathe. But as it is, it's a novella unlike any I've read in a long time. If you like original, creative, mind-bending science fiction, "Rosebud" is well worth a read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amber (seekingdystopia)

    I have read three books in the WITCHES OF LYCHFORD series and felt middle of the road about them. I don't think that's the fault of the book, though; I've come to the conclusion that while I like fantasy books with magic, "witchy vibes" don't always work for me. I am so glad that I gave this book a chance because it was much more up my alley! Rosebud is a quick read that clocks in at just over 100 pages. This is such a sweet spot for novellas for me because I find that great authors have the abil I have read three books in the WITCHES OF LYCHFORD series and felt middle of the road about them. I don't think that's the fault of the book, though; I've come to the conclusion that while I like fantasy books with magic, "witchy vibes" don't always work for me. I am so glad that I gave this book a chance because it was much more up my alley! Rosebud is a quick read that clocks in at just over 100 pages. This is such a sweet spot for novellas for me because I find that great authors have the ability to pack in the perfect amount of information for a one-sitting read in that length and it's a bit more satisfying than a short story. I'm the type of person to think basically every book should be 100 pages shorter so I always jump for the TorDotCom novellas. This book has an ensemble cast of five sentient, digital beings on a "manned" spaceship in charge of gathering intelligence for a human organization. Each being was wonderfully distinct and unique and they created a well-rounded, likable group of characters. They are alerted by the ship to assemble in the shared quarters to investigate an object that it cannot properly analyze. They must determine if it is something that is a risk to their company. Just as they are about to approach the object, the communications in their ship shut down and they must make a choice on what to do next with no supervision from their superiors. This is the point where the book really starts hurting your brain. At first, I questioned if something was wrong with me and I was forgetting how to read. I reread several passages multiple times. Once we started getting into a groove, the confusion disappeared and I was hooked, wanting to know when the next twist would come. If you like Blake Crouch's hard science, mind-breaking twists, you'll like the plot of this one as well. The writing style was reminiscent of Douglas Adams and Martha Wells' Murderbot Diaries, but unfortunately I found it coming off a little too try-hard than endearing, like it does from the two authors I just mentioned. This was the main reason that I rated this 4 stars instead of 5. As the book went on, the writing bothered me less and less, but it was still not my favorite. Because of the techno-speak and weird situations, I think that this is going to be very much a "you love it or you hate it" type of book. For me, I loved it! I want to give it some time to soak in and re-read in the future (it's quick, thankfully!) to approach the weirdness already knowing what is going to happen. For more speculative fiction reviews, recommendations, and my adorable dog, follow my bookstagram account: [email protected]

  28. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Rosebud is a dystopian locked-room SF time-bending mystery novella by Paul Cornell. Due out 26th April from Macmillan on their Tor/Forge imprint, it's 112 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats, it makes it so easy to find info with the search Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Rosebud is a dystopian locked-room SF time-bending mystery novella by Paul Cornell. Due out 26th April from Macmillan on their Tor/Forge imprint, it's 112 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats, it makes it so easy to find info with the search function if needed. Above all, the author can write. I unhesitatingly recommend his media output to anyone and everyone because, at the end of the day, whatever he does is more-than-competently written. That being said, this is one that readers will love or hate. It's admittedly somewhat difficult reading; there are representations of an end-game reality where the conservative capitalists have "won" and the end result is not pretty. It's also quite cerebral. I am maybe slow, but it took me til about 30% in to have an inkling of what was really going on. I was also uncomfortable with representations of torture (attack and ritual torture of non-binary and trans characters) and the weighty dystopian melancholic dread of being able to draw distinct correlations between where we are *now* and where the protagonists in the story find themselves. This is a story which not only invites but almost requires more thought. It's slick and thought provoking. I found it effective and moving. I suspect many readers will consider it pretentious and overwrought. It's only 112 pages, so it's a quick read, either way. Four stars. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Liz (Quirky Cat)

    3 1/2 stars rounded up. Please consider picking up Paul Cornell's Rosebud for those seeking a book that will force creative and thought-provoking conversations. It will do all of this and so very much more. It takes identity, humanity, and other concepts. Who better to run a ship off on an extended mission than five sentient yet digital beings? These five have been working together for centuries – three of them, to be specific. Yet the latest survey they are on is going to change everything. And 3 1/2 stars rounded up. Please consider picking up Paul Cornell's Rosebud for those seeking a book that will force creative and thought-provoking conversations. It will do all of this and so very much more. It takes identity, humanity, and other concepts. Who better to run a ship off on an extended mission than five sentient yet digital beings? These five have been working together for centuries – three of them, to be specific. Yet the latest survey they are on is going to change everything. And everyone. What they are about to find will change the very nature of their beings. It will make them question themselves, their identity, and what it means to be alive. And that is only the beginning. Rosebud wins the award for being the most unique novella I've read this year. And that's saying something because I've read a few that previously held that title. I love that it made me stop and think while picturing a different form of reality. This is a bizarre read, but I mean that in the best of ways. It has personality, quirks, flaws, and out-of-this-world concepts. I think readers who enjoy deeper and grittier science fiction novels will enjoy this read. Rosebud does what science fiction does best – it tackles heavy and difficult to articulate arguments and puts them into a more digestible format. So if you're looking for a book that will make your brain work, consider checking it out! Thanks to Tor.com and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own. Read more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emma Cathryne

    I knew I was going to like this novella as soon as I learned that Paul Cornell is responsible for Father's Day, Human Nature, and Family of Blood: three incredibly iconic episodes of Doctor Who. This fast-paced, brainy sci-fi romp tells the story of a crew of artificial intelligences (self-described as a balloon, a goth, a science aristocrat, a ball of hands, and a swarm of insects) who stumble upon a strange alien presence in the far reaches of space. I adored the characters, who Cornell manage I knew I was going to like this novella as soon as I learned that Paul Cornell is responsible for Father's Day, Human Nature, and Family of Blood: three incredibly iconic episodes of Doctor Who. This fast-paced, brainy sci-fi romp tells the story of a crew of artificial intelligences (self-described as a balloon, a goth, a science aristocrat, a ball of hands, and a swarm of insects) who stumble upon a strange alien presence in the far reaches of space. I adored the characters, who Cornell manages to capture three-dimensionally through their quirky personalities, entertaining dialogue, and comprehensive history. This is no small feat, given the novel's tight 112 page length. The story is a bit of a mind-bend, playing with alternate universes, a schrodinger's cat based ship defense system, and time travel to unravel a mystery that goes back to the dawn of humanity. Cornell expertly balances complex concepts with enough humor and absurdity to keep the story grounded, though in the last two chapters it veers sharply into unexpected emotional depths. A major TW for violence against trans and queer people: the characters live in a dystopian society where being trans is illegal and trans people and their families are prosecuted. One member of the cast is trans and the other was in a relationship with a trans person, and the story touches on the horrors they experienced before joining the crew. Though jarring and upsetting to read about, the story has a happy ending, and is respectful of all the characters' lives and identities.

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