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Publisher's Summary

A literary descendent of Ursula K. Le Guin, Ruthanna Emrys crafts a novel of extraterrestrial diplomacy and urgent climate repair bursting with quiet, tenuous hope and an underlying warmth. A Half-Built Garden depicts a world worth building towards, a humanity worth saving from itself, and an alien community worth entering with open arms. It's not the easiest future to build, but it's one that just might be in reach.

On a warm March night in 2083, Judy Wallach-Stevens wakes to a warning of unknown pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. She heads out to check what she expects to be a false alarm—and stumbles upon the first alien visitors to Earth. These aliens have crossed the galaxy to save humanity, convinced that the people of Earth must leave their ecologically-ravaged planet behind and join them among the stars. And if humanity doesn't agree, they may need to be saved by force.

But the watershed networks that rose up to save the planet from corporate devastation aren't ready to give up on Earth. Decades ago, they reorganized humanity around the hope of keeping the world livable. By sharing the burden of decision-making, they've started to heal our wounded planet.

Now corporations, nation-states, and networks all vie to represent humanity to these powerful new beings, and if anyone accepts the aliens' offer, Earth may be lost. With everyone’s eyes turned skyward, the future hinges on Judy's effort to create understanding, both within and beyond her own species.

©2022 Ruthanna Emrys (P)2022 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

“This complex, complicated, gorgeous musing on the future of humanity and the power of connection, the things we owe to each other and the essential strength of consensus, deserves to be the first contact novel that defines a generation.” —Seanan McGuire

“A fascinatingly rich and original vision of our future world, explored at a moment of crisis; a vitally important exploration of the meaning of family and community; and a refraction of today's conundrums through a fresh interpretation of first contact.” —Malka Older 

“Emrys’ fast-paced and fun story paints a picture of a future that’s imaginable within our lifetimes. Hers is a unique and ultimately hopeful vision of the world we might bequeath to our grandchildren.” —Karl Schroeder 

What listeners say about A Half-Built Garden

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A Better World is Possible

The best type of Science Fiction, a vision of the future both compelling and corporeal

1 person found this helpful

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Gender > Aliens

Imagine believing that the gender is more important to alien relations than ANYTHING else. This author cares more about getting across the gender or perceived gender of her characters than actually writing a story with a plot. So, if you are a They/Them or a She/Her who used to be a He/Him, you are in luck! Buy and listen immediately. Otherwise skip this garbage fire.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-21-22

Complex, wholesome and wonderful

Nuanced aliens, complex approach to problem solving, hope about climate crisis, casual LGBT representation

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  • R. Maines
  • 08-21-22

Old fashioned

This feels like old school sci-fi, mostly talking and not much action. I appreciated the low key action. My main problems was the people of Dandelion network come over as total arseholes at times so much so I was rooting for the Corporates. Thankfully things improve towards the end, but the ending felt rushed.

Narration was good.

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