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Waiting for the Summer Rain


By Arkady Martine 

27 Jul, 2023

Miscellaneous Reviews


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Arkady Martine’s 2023 Rose/House is a stand-alone near-future science fiction novella.

As another author might have said, silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Rose House, and whatever walked there, walked alone. Underestimate Rose House’s taste for solitude at one’s own risk.

Just ask the dead man whose corpse is slowly decaying within Rose House.

China Lake Police Detective Maritza Smith already has several cases demanding attention. One more would be unwelcome under any circumstances. A phone call from Rose House’s governing artificial intelligence is particularly undesirable. However, the AI’s report of a dead man within the structure cannot be ignored.

Problem one: gaining access. Architect Basit Deniau designed Rose House well. Following Deniau’s death, only a former acolyte turned bitter Deniau critic, Selene Gisil, is permitted entry, and that only under onerous conditions. Forcing entry into an uncooperative Rose House would tax Smith’s resources.

Gisil is summoned to China Lake. A wasted effort, as Gisil cannot confer permission to enter on another human. The solution to the problem turns on the fact Rose House’ inhabiting intelligence is software and that specious word games can fool an AI. Or perhaps the AI is not fooled at all and plays along for reasons of its own.

The dead man is most sincerely dead. How was he killed? Who killed him? And why was he killed? All interesting questions, although perhaps not as important for Smith as will Rose House permit her to leave alive?”


This is a novella that was not published by tor dot com.

This story is set in a near future experiencing dramatic climate change. However, like so many other things, the consequences of climate change are unevenly distributed. Peons like Smith and her colleagues are subject to regulations and shortages that do not affect society’s elite, persons such as the late Basit Deniau and also Selene Gisil. Deniau could squander resources creating a cutting-edge building that is home to none. Gisil can jet around the world regardless of the environmental consequences. I am as surprised as you are that the rules are not the same for everyone. Which is to say, not.

A key insight denied to Smith that many readers will have is that this is a homage to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. If Smith understood the nature of the story in which she was a participant, she would never venture into Hill Rose House. All Rose House has to offer visitors is amused malice.

Though a homage, Rose/House is in no sense derivative. Having read the Jackson may provide insight into the character of Rose House’s AI. It will not provide any foreshadowing of the events that play out. Reading the Jackson will simply allow one to appreciate the novella on a deeper level.

Considered on its own, the short tale is an elegantly written intersection between small town police procedural [1] and near future extrapolation. This is not a futuristic police procedural that would work if reset in an earlier era. The setting shapes the story. As it should.

Rose/House is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Apple Books), here (Barnes & Noble), and here (Chapters-Indigo).

I did not find Rose/House at Amazon UK.

1: Weird synchronicity: this is the third police procedural featuring small desert towns that I’ve encountered in the last week.