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Looking Through Lace Kindle Edition

39 customer reviews

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Length: 71 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Editorial Reviews


"'Looking Through Lace' by Ruth Nestvold is terrific science fiction. I want to read more of this writer's stories."
- Andi Shechter in January Magazine

"... 'Looking Through Lace' by Ruth Nestvold [is] an intelligent, complex story illustrating the difficulties of learning and understanding the nuances and intricacies of an alien language and culture, particularly one so similar to our own that we persist in viewing it (wrongly) on our terms.... The reason ... why there are so many differences between the languages of both men and women are logical and well thought out, and the final revelation about the true nature of the relationship between the women and the men comes as a nice twist."

- Phil Friel in Tangent Online

"Two strong stories stand out from the rest of the fiction. Ruth Nestvold's 'Looking Through Lace' rests on a relatively simple reversal or secret, but the rest of it is solidly written and convincing. The main character is a young female xenolinguist named Toni -- she is called to a planet named Christmas to study the Mejan culture. Nestvold presents a neat puzzle, and she takes the time to present it just-so."

- James Schellenberg in Challenging Destiny

From the Author

If you enjoyed this novella, be sure to check out Beyond the Waters of the World, Book Two of Looking Through Lace.

Product Details

  • File Size: 246 KB
  • Print Length: 71 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Red Dragon Books (February 23, 2011)
  • Publication Date: February 23, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004P5NSKA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,373 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Ruth Nestvold has published widely in science fiction and fantasy, her fiction appearing in such markets as Asimov's, F&SF, Baen's Universe, Strange Horizons, and Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction. Her work has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. The Italian translation of her novella "Looking Through Lace" won the "Premio Italia" award for best international work, while her novel, "Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur", has been translated into German, Dutch and Italian. She maintains a web site at and blogs at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H Waterhouse on April 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like how much easier it has gotten for me to read novellas. Yay for ebooks, because I never read Asimov's.

I thought this highly polished story was a perfect example of how to work through one's own expectations. At first, our viewpoint character arrives on the planet Christmas, expecting pretty much what people told her. She got invited because she is the only female xenolinguist available, and it appears that the women have a second language that the men don't use.

She does all the things a sophomore expert does -- starts figuring things out, falls for a local, gets squashed by her boss, the usual. The twist is when she starts using her linguistic skills to tease out the cultural differences between what she has and expects, and what is actually going on.

I spotted the twist coming, but that didn't ruin my enjoyment watching her figure out what was going on.

Read if: You like watching people have to re-evaluate their assumptions, your are having a bad week with your boss.

Skip if: Linguistics scare you - you don't have to understand the details, but they are a big part of the story. You were hoping for a full book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kriti Godey on February 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"'Looking Through Lace" 'is the story of Toni, a xenolinguist who is assigned to work with a first contact team. She's been relegated to doing grunt work until now, and is really excited for the opportunity to prove herself.

The alien world in '"Looking Through Lace" 'is fascinating - although the inhabitants are descended from humans, they have a unique history and culture. The women speak an entirely different language among themselves that the men are not allowed to learn, and Toni is determined to figure out how and why that happened. However, she has a jealous senior colleague and the affections of an attractive native (who just happens to be in a group marriage) to contend with.

I enjoyed reading a science-fiction story by Nestvold; all the other work I've read by her has been fantasy. She keeps up the excellent worldbuilding and characters. I found the revelations concerning the history of the world very interesting. The antagonist xenolinguist seemed like a bit of a caricature, but the interesting alien world more than made up for it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christina (Ensconced in Lit) on March 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I won this novella from a member giveaway on librarything in exchange for an honest review.

Looking through Lace is a book about discovering alien languages, and how a language is set up can reveal so much about a culture.

I really liked the protagonist, Toni. She was strong, not to be bullied by the antagonist. I will not reveal the secrets of this book, but as a woman, I really enjoyed how things turned out. I thought the book was well written, and written by someone who loves and understands languages. I also loved how the title is a perfect one for this book.

This is a delightful gem for anyone who likes science fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lucy Ditty on March 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a compelling and fascinating story. Toni's challenges on Christmas relate to more than just a new experience in her career. Beyond the sheer intellectual fascination, she deals with the emotional component of a team member's hostility and the evolving relationships with the planet's residents.

The story is well written and flows easily. The author strikes a good balance in terms of the amount of background information and Toni's task; we are given enough to keep us from feeling lost or uninterested, but not so much as to detract from the larger story. Toni grows in strength and confidence over time in a believable and consistent way. The central issue is handled well without belaboring the point, raising questions but not beating the reader over the head with rhetoric.

Technically speaking, it's called a novella. Speaking simply as a reader, I would call it a short story. The one error I noticed was a single instance where the culture name was spelled "Megan" rather than "Mejan." I enjoyed it very much; this sort of story is exactly why I frequently pick up SF anthologies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Athenajewel on March 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
The plot of this novella centers around Toni, a xenolinguist who finally gets her big break being assigned to a first contact team exploring an alien planet. After landing on the planet, we see the team struggle to understand both different languages and cultures and even gender roles in society. I loved this novella, I wish there was more of it! Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Emoto on June 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Looking Through Lace, which is 86 pages on my Kindle, is appealing, intriguing and could easily be the basis for a full-fledged novel.

This well-written little gem is the story of a female linguist, Toni Donato, assigned to a quiet, nonviolent planet that lacks a written language. Women have a good deal of influence within the family here and they share a secret tongue spoken only among themselves.

Toni's up against three main hurdles: Her new boss, Dr. Hartmut Repnik, is overbearing, authoritarian and dismissive of females. The second is that the women of the planet won't allow her to study "the language of the house" unless she promises not to publish about it or teach it to any men. The third is that it's far too easy to evaluate a different culture through the lens of your own.

In a novella, almost any clue can give away the plot, so just know that in a matter of days -- a couple of hours for you -- Toni unravels the remarkable mystery and, in the process, bests Dr. Repnik. In addition, take special care to read the legend of the little lace-maker carefully so you can compare it to the story of the young poet.

This novella is satisfying, enjoyable and a quick read, easily deserving of 4 stars.
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