Bluebird by Ciel Pierlot is an incredibly fun queer science fiction adventure captivating readers from the first to the last page. How could it be any different with a tagline like “Lesbian Gunslingers in Space”? Evoking the phenomenal Gideon the Ninth, famously marketed as “Lesbian Necromancers in Space”, Bluebird might charm readers similarly. I don’t expect it to be quite the same breakout success but I can see this being a popular and beloved genre contribution. It is full of dry humour and the sort of sparse wit that made me chuckle throughout reading the book and felt absolutely natural for this set of characters.
The story follows Rig as she embarks on a journey across the galaxy to save her estranged sister from her former faction – who are trying to blackmail her into returning what she stole from them. But as is par for the course, she is not alone on this mission as she joins the crew of the Bluebird, a ship full of resistance fighters, and has the help of her badass librarian girlfriend June. Despite having noped out of the power struggles between the three factions vying for dominance in this world, Rig is drawn back into them as she and her friends fight their way through space.
Bluebird is fast-paced and compelling, the kind of book you’ll want to keep reading and reading because it absorbs you so much and you want to know how Rig’s story continues. I personally keep thinking I’m not a huge fan of science fiction, and then I pick up a book like this one, and I want to immediately read the whole genre because it’s exactly my cup of tea. Strong characters, a compelling story, high stakes and humour that just clicks for me. It is dark and gritty without being overly misantrophic, and never loses a hopeful spark to keep the characters motivated.
I think this is an outstanding science fiction title, and one I’d personally consider for awards. I look forward to reading more of Ciel Pierlot’s work – if her debut is this good, hopes are high for future books. And I definitely need to keep reading queer science fiction, because apparently I have been wrongly assuming that I’m not a science fiction person. I’d especially recommend Bluebird to readers of fellow Angry Robot title The Outside by Ada Hoffman or Charlie Jane Anders’ Victory Greater Than Death, or perhaps even Tade Thompson’s Far From the Light of Heaven.