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A Memory Called Empire
By Arkady Matine

Discussed February 2022

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  1. Did you finish the book? Why or why not?
  2. Some descriptions of the book have called it, among other things, a grand, galaxy-spanning space opera, a novel about galactic geopolitics, a murder mystery, and an espionage thriller. Do you think those terms describe it well? Do you think all those genres blend well in the book?
  3. What did you think about the balance between plot development/action and world building/information?
  4. Did you think the political structures and events were realistic? Why or why not?
    1. How well do you think the author incorporated economics into the politics of the story?
  5. What did you think of how the author explored the idea of trust, and the consequences of trusting or not trusting people?
  6. What did you think of the contradictions in Mahit’s love of Teixcalaani culture, but loyalty to Lsel station?
  7. Did you think the tech was well thought out, both in terms of how it worked and the impact it had on the cultures? For example:
    1. The imago machine
    2. The city algorithms
    3. Space travel
  8. What did you think of Mahit’s experiences as the ambassador? Did you think she made good decisions based on the information she had, or did you think she was too reliant on what she assumed she’d know from Yskandr?
  9. Did you find the story suspenseful? Did it surprise you?
  10. What did you think of the juxtaposition of intrigue-type danger and real physical danger, like when the bomb goes off?
  11. What did you think of the author’s use of language in the novel to accomplish different things, such as:
    1. The naming system
    2. Poetry slams as political tools
    3. The use of subtext and multiple meanings to make a political statement?
  12. What did you think of the relationships between the characters? Did they ring true for you?
  13. Did you think that Arkady Martine’s background as a Byzantine historian and city planner helped make those plot elements more effective?
  14. What did you think of the author’s treatment of the concepts of assimilation by a larger, more powerful government, either by military conquest or cultural takeover?
  15. Did you feel like the novel was complete on its own, or did it feel too much like there needed to be a sequel to resolve plot threads?
  16. Would this make a good movie or mini-series?
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