June 28, 2022

Drunk on All Your Strange New Words

By Eddie Robson
Review by
In Eddie Robson's sci-fi mystery, aliens and humans can communicate—but translating telepathic thought into speech makes a human translator rip-roaring drunk.
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If aliens descended from a higher plane of existence to bestow upon us lowly human life-forms the answers to every cosmic mystery, how would we communicate with them? Sounds, shapes, colors, mathematics? Eddie Robson’s Drunk on All Your Strange New Words posits that telepathy will connect our two species—with a catch, of course. Converting a Logi’s telepathic thought to speech renders a human translator drunk. Such is the humor and charm you’ll find at the heart of Robson’s cheeky, breezy sci-fi mystery. 

Lydia, the telepathic translator for Fitz, the Logi cultural attache, is getting fed up with her work. She likes her boss, but she’s tired of feeling rip-roaring drunk on the daily. The problem is she isn’t particularly good at anything else. But when a terrible event throws her into the center of an international and intergalactic crisis, Lydia takes it upon herself to unravel the truth that the police seem incapable of finding.

The simple fact that intoxication is a central component of Lydia’s work leads to a lot of funny moments, which pop against the rather bleak setting. In Robson’s future Earth, people are even more obsessed with social media, polar ice caps have flooded parts of New York City and people are no longer impressed with the fact that aliens exist. It’s a place where humans bungle everything while the Logi watch serenely, and a little pityingly. 

Drunk on All Your Strange New Words moves at a fast pace, and the proceedings are never complex just for the sake of it. The mystery’s twists and turns are satisfying throughout, and Robson keeps a tight grip on the reins as Lydia discovers more and more pieces to the puzzle. There are many truly surprising moments both funny and strange (one of which totally floored this reviewer). Like Cassie Bowden on HBO’s “The Flight Attendant,” another woman trying to hold herself together long enough to solve a crime, Lydia oscillates between self-doubt and conviction in the face of the unknown. She’s not always an easy person to root for, but watching her resolutely commit to her cause will win readers over. 

Drunk on All Your Strange New Words combines the sci-fi and mystery genres in a way that does justice to both of them, and that’s no small feat. Perfect for anyone looking for a fun, thought-provoking and unintimidating foray into sci-fi, this book will have readers smiling on every page, drunk on Robson’s clever words.

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