LSF home

In the Books Section:

Book Discussion
Group Archives

Book Review


Lambda Literary

Literary Links

Order Books

Reading List

*Other Books
of Note

This is How You Lose the Time War
By Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Discussed June 2020

Buy This is How You Lose the Time War from


  • Blue
  • Red
  • “The Seeker”
  • Commandant


  • Garden – the environmental future
  • Agency – the dystopic techno future


  1. Did you read/finish the book?
  2. Did you like it? Why or why not?
  3. How did you read the book (physical book? digital book? Audio?)? How different do you think the experience would be between each type for a book like this, you think this would work better in audio or text...or no difference?
  4. What's your one sentence description of the what type of book this is? Is it science fiction? Fantasy? Romance? Something else entirely?
  5. Where did this story utilize traditional “time travel” tropes? Where did it subvert them? Did you find it hard to follow?
  6. When did you realize who “the seeker” was?
  7. This is a story with essentially two characters – did the extremely focused scope of character add or detract from your enjoyment of the story? Did you feel like each had their own voice? Did they feel developed? Did their arc feel organic or contrived?
  8. The methods Blue and Red use to communicate are fascinating – in many ways embracing the weirdness always hiding behind time travel stories – but also often built on at least a kernel of reality. Messages that appear on paper only under certain circumstances, languages told in knots, the data capacity of DNA in even a seed. Did the messages and methods engage you? Did you have a favorite?
  9. The language of the story is (pardon the pun) almost purple prose at times – poetic and lyrical, yet occasionally cheeky too. How did you feel about the writing itself? The word choices and flow of the language?
  10. Co-written works sometimes have seams where you can see the hand of each writer....did that seem to be the case here? Could you see any stylistic differences or clear demarcations of “this was Author A and this was Author B?
  11. What are the key themes you took from the story?
  12. In Blue's first message to Red she says at one point.... "This is how we'll win." Is Blue actually talking about Garden... or is she talking about Red&Blue even at that point?
  13. Did they lose the time war?
  14. Have you read Naomi Mitchison's Travel Light (mentioned in three of the messages back and forth)? If so, how did it influence the story and/or the authors?
  15. Would you read more by Gladstone or El-Mohtar?
Club Activities Fandom Gaming Television Movies Books Help Site Search Contact Us Lambda Sci-Fi