Content notes for Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters by Aimee Ogden: birth, miscarriage, sickness, death
- Several births or their aftermaths are described, one involves a stillborn child
- There is a pandemic among one of the human varieties on the world and descriptions of their sickness and the deaths that have occurred
Representation: I think the main relationship is poly? One of the characters also changed genders (it’s a species thing apparently?)
This was fascinating. Sun-Daughters, Sea-Dauthers is a scifi retelling of The Little Mermaid, set in a far future in which humans have evolved into a bunch of different varieties, two of which live on the planet this novella is set on. One of them lives in the sea, having developed seal like fur and fat-reserves but also gills to survive in the cold water. The other lives on the land and has scales, being built for a life in hot, dry climates.
The story it tells is one of intense longing, for home, for family, for love and the feeling of barely being able to hold on to the things you dream of. Atuale, the protagonist, has left her life under the sea for one on land, falling in love with one of the land-dwelling people and undergoing gene-modification to share a life with him. But then a deadly disease ravages the land-dwelling population of her planet, bringing her husband to death’s door, and she has to search out her former friend, the one who made her change possible all those years ago, the World-Witch.
Aimee Ogden uses painfully beautiful prose to paint a picture of a world that’s divided into two completely different halves and the pain of not really belonging with either of them. Unfortunately, I felt like some of the magic of this novella got lost due to it’s shortness and thus lack of world-building. While I got a surprisingly good sense of the world (better than with some full-length novels, to be honest), the entire thing is so dense, that I sometimes had to reread passages or only really understood them a couple of pages later, with more information.
Still, Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters by Aimee Ogden is a beautiful little gem of a story and I enjoyed it a lot. I would, however, have preferred a full-length novel, there is so much about this world that is teased at but we never get a chance to explore. Of course, that’s part of what the story is about, longing for more, curiosity to explore and the things you’d have to give up for them, but it left me slightly dissatisfied. I guess, in the end I’d have made a different choice than Atuale.
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