This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War

by Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone


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“[An] exquisitely crafted tale...Part epistolary romance, part mind-blowing science fiction adventure, this dazzling story unfolds bit by bit, revealing layers of meaning as it plays with cause and effect, wildly imaginative technologies, and increasingly intricate wordplay...This short novel warrants multiple readings to fully unlock its complexities.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review).

From award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone comes an enthralling, romantic novel spanning time and space about two time-traveling rivals who fall in love and must change the past to ensure their future.

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandment finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, becomes something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean the death of each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win. That’s how war works, right?

Cowritten by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534430990
Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press
Publication date: 03/17/2020
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 5,741
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Amal El-Mohtar is an award-winning author, editor, and critic. Her short story “Seasons of Glass and Iron” won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards and was a finalist for the World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Aurora, and Eugie Foster awards. She is the author of The Honey Month, a collection of poetry and prose written to the taste of twenty-eight different kinds of honey, and contributes criticism to NPR Books and The New York Times. Her fiction has most recently appeared on and Uncanny Magazine, and in anthologies such as The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories and The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales. She is presently pursuing a PhD at Carleton University and teaches creative writing at the University of Ottawa. She can be found online at @Tithenai.

Max Gladstone is the author of the Hugo-nominated Craft Sequence, which Patrick Rothfuss called “stupefyingly good.” The sixth book, Ruin of Angels, was released this September. Max’s interactive mobile game Choice of the Deathless was nominated for the XYZZY Award, and his critically acclaimed short fiction has appeared on and in Uncanny Magazine, and in anthologies such as XO Orpheus: Fifty New Myths and The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales. John Crowley described Max as “a true star of twenty first century fantasy.” Max has sung in Carnegie Hall and was once thrown from a horse in Mongolia.

Read an Excerpt

This Is How You Lose the Time War
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

A little joke. Trust that I have accounted for all variables of irony. Though I suppose if you’re unfamiliar with overanthologized works of the early Strand 6 nineteenth century, the joke’s on me.

I hoped you’d come.

You’re wondering what this is—but not, I think, wondering who this is. You know—just as I’ve known, since our eyes met during that messy matter on Abrogast-882—that we have unfinished business.

I shall confess to you here that I’d been growing complacent. Bored, even, with the war; your Agency’s flash and dash upthread and down, Garden’s patient planting and pruning of strands, burrowing into time’s braid. Your unstoppable force to our immovable object; less a game of Go than a game of tic-tac-toe, outcomes determined from the first move, endlessly iterated until the split where we fork off into unstable, chaotic possibility—the future we seek to secure at each other’s expense.

But then you turned up.

My margins vanished. Every move I’d made by rote I had to bring myself to fully. You brought some depth to your side’s speed, some staying power, and I found myself working at capacity again. You invigorated your Shift’s war effort and, in so doing, invigorated me.

Please find my gratitude all around you.

I must tell you it gives me great pleasure to think of you reading these words in licks and whorls of flame, your eyes unable to work backwards, unable to keep the letters on a page; instead you must absorb them, admit them into your memory. In order to recall them you must seek my presence in your thoughts, tangled among them like sunlight in water. In order to report my words to your superiors you must admit yourself already infiltrated, another casualty of this most unfortunate day.

This is how we’ll win.

It is not entirely my intent to brag. I wish you to know that I respected your tactics. The elegance of your work makes this war seem like less of a waste. Speaking of which, the hydraulics in your spherical flanking gambit were truly superb. I hope you’ll take comfort from the knowledge that they’ll be thoroughly digested by our mulchers, such that our next victory against your side will have a little piece of you in it.

Better luck next time, then.



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