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Natasha Pulley

Author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

6+ Works 3,791 Members 195 Reviews 10 Favorited

About the Author

Includes the name: Pulley Natasha


Works by Natasha Pulley

The Bedlam Stacks (2017) 682 copies
The Kingdoms (2021) 478 copies
The Half Life of Valery K (2022) 242 copies
The Mars House (2024) 87 copies

Associated Works

The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights (2021) — Contributor — 200 copies
The Winter Spirits: Ghostly Tales for Festive Nights (2023) — Contributor — 65 copies


19th century (45) 2015 (15) 2017 (16) 21st century (17) alternate history (36) ARC (16) ebook (72) England (47) fantasy (308) fiction (310) ghosts (19) goodreads import (15) historical (59) historical fantasy (68) historical fiction (144) horror (16) Japan (73) Kindle (75) lgbt (21) LGBTQ (39) library (26) London (73) magical realism (67) mystery (41) netgalley (19) novel (26) own (17) Peru (34) queer (24) read (31) Russia (19) science fiction (59) sff (26) short stories (18) South America (15) steampunk (143) time travel (40) to-read (558) unread (19) Victorian (32)

Common Knowledge

Places of residence
Cambridgeshire, England, UK
Oxford University
University of East Anglia (MA|Creative Writing)
Awards and honors
Betty Trask Award in 2016
Jenny Savill
Short biography
Natasha has lived in Japan as a Daiwa Scholar, as well as China and Peru. She was a 2016 Glastone Writer in Residence, and she teaches on Bath Spa University’s Creative Writing BA, alongside short courses at the Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education.



Group read: The watchmaker of Filigree Street in The Green Dragon (February 2016)


The deliberate pace of this novel is necessary to keep it from being another poor girl/boy gets taken in by the super rich. January was a principle dancer with the Ballet in a flooded out London and is a refugee on Mars, where the "earthstrong" live under strict limitations to minimize the physical harm they can do to "natural" Martians. The problems are indeed often ones with no good answers, but the characters, and the whimsical touches such as snide matriarchal mammoths give it sufficient lift not to bear down too heavily.… (more)
quondame | 7 other reviews | May 17, 2024 |
The Kingdoms is about a man who suddenly wakes up without a memory, in the late nineteenth century in a world that we slowly discover is one where the French won the Napoleonic Wars and thus conquered England (though not Scotland). The book benefits from a nice sense of double wrongness: Joe has no memory, so everything is new to him, but there's a different way in which everything is new to us, as we slowly uncover how this history differs from the one we as readers know. I like to say (I think I stole this from Jo Walton) that sf is a mystery genre, where the world itself is the mystery, and The Kingdoms captures that very well. I liked Joe a lot as a protagonist, in his slow, methodical nature, and I liked how that was mirrored by the slow, methodical way in which the story unspooled. Joe is sent to man a remote lighthouse whose operators have disappeared, but also one that seems to have some kind of connection to his mysterious past; the people he meets are strange and unsettling.

The book makes some major shifts after this point, and though they worked for me in the abstract—like, if you described them to me, I certainly wouldn't object to a novel in general, or even this novel in particular, going this route—I found that in their actuality, they kind of lost me. The clear throughline of the first part of the novel ends up dissipating, with a lot of embedded narratives, and the singular character focus of the first part is lost in favor of an expanding cast, many of whom never grabbed me as much as Joe did. In the end, I got a bit lost in the plot mechanics too—and I usually do pretty well by these things! Perhaps I was not giving the book the focus it deserved, but though I enjoyed it for much of its run, by its end it didn't seem that the attributes that made it initially appeal to me were still around very much. It may work very well for someone else, but not so much for me.
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Stevil2001 | 23 other reviews | May 4, 2024 |
Natasha Pulley's The Mars House is, like everything she writes, and absolute show-stopper. I start reading her work and very little else matters. I just want to stay in her world of complex challenges and gentle, timid hopes as long as I can.

I've started this review several times and found myself caught up in complex and lengthy summary, so I'm going to forgo the summary almost completely. I'll just say, imagine January, an Earth refugee, a former dancer with the Royal Ballet, who moves to Tharsis, a Mars colony, and experiences all kinds of physical and cultural shocks. (Most of the other reviews of this title include such summary, so you'll have no trouble finding some.)

I'd like to highlight the points of contact and tension that drive this novel.
• Miscommunication between a gender-neutral Tharsis culture and a highly gendered Earth approach to identity
• Huge differences in physical strength between recent Earth arrivals (strong, having lived at a gravity three times that on Mars) and Tharsises (fragile bones and reduced strength as a result of generations of life on lower-gravity Mars)
• Lots and lots of difficulties concerning the costs and benefits of assimilation
• A possibility of physical assimilation, "naturalization," that risks the health and lives of the Earth refugees
• Complicated and bloody political manoeuvering among Tharsis politicians
• An uneasy arrangement between a Tharsis politician determined to make naturalization mandatory, and January, who is looking for a way of moving beyond the poverty and exclusion he's experienced on Tharsis
• And the possibility of an awkward, near-impossible budding romance.

So that's
√ The climate crisis on earth
√ Climate refugees on Mars
√ State-sponsored disabling of arriving refugees
√ Colonial tensions as Earth nations attempt to maintain control over Tharsis
√ Awkward non-binary/binary attraction

Pulley is gathering up the foibles of our own time and holding up a mirror to our biases and incompleteness via a space colony 200 years in the future. As always, the prose is exquisite, the plotting full of twists, and the central characters emotionally engaging. Bonus: woolly mammoths (yep, those, too).

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss; the opinions are my own.
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Sarah-Hope | 7 other reviews | Mar 22, 2024 |
Real Rating: 4.8* of five

The Publisher Says: From the author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, a queer sci-fi novel about an Earth refugee and a Mars politician who fake marry to save their reputations—and their planet.

In the wake of environmental catastrophe, January, once a principal in London’s Royal Ballet, has become a refugee on Tharsis, the terraformed colony on Mars. In Tharsis, January’s life is dictated by his status as an Earthstronger—a person whose body is not adjusted to Mars’s lower gravity and so poses a danger to those born on, or naturalized to, Mars. January’s job choices, housing, and even transportation options are dictated by this second-class status, and now a xenophobic politician named Aubrey Gale is running on a platform that would make it all worse: Gale wants all Earthstrongers to be surgically naturalized, a process that can be anything from disabling to deadly.

When Gale chooses January for an on-the-spot press junket interview that goes horribly awry, January’s life is thrown into chaos, but Gale’s political fortunes are damaged, too. Gale proposes a solution to both their problems: a five-year made-for-the-press marriage that would secure January’s financial future without naturalization and ensure Gale’s political future. But when January accepts the offer, he discovers that Gale is not at all like they appear in the press. And worse, soon, January finds himself entangled in political and personal events well beyond his imagining. Gale has an enemy, someone willing to destroy all of Tharsis to make them pay—and January may be the only person standing in the way.


My Review
: Comme d'habitude, Author Pulley has taken multiple strands of today's hellscape and woven them into a clever, involving story. January is a ballet dancer...lean, lithe, and muscular even by Earth standards...and a refugee from the sinking of his home, London, due to climate change. No worries, it isn't a big deal in the story, just the way he gets to colonial Mars.

Where he, because he grew up on a high-gravity planet, is an "Earthstronger" and a terrible threat to the naturalized Martians. This condemns him to a life of menial labor where his freakish strength is an actual advantage not a threat.

Does this anti-immigrant rhetoric sound familiar? Start from actual differences, create threats, and stigmatize the Other with the largely imaginary threats and violent rhetoric?

The story is about all that and more. January is the only one who is referred to by the masculine pronoun. All the Martians are "they." No more information is given than that...and Gale, the senator whose careless seeking for a soundbite in their campaign to forcibly "naturalize" the Earthstrongers...a procedure with a horrific death rate, and ugly medical side-effects for those it does not kill...as the external suits that cause the Earthstrongers not to be able to exert themselves to capacity are defeatable. Gale's effort to get a political advantage blows up badly and causes them, as well as January, terrible problems.

Their solution is to offer January a five-year fake marriage contract that will give them good political optics, and him a way out of the endless drudgery and second-class citizenship of being in a suit or, far worse, beinf forcibly "naturalized." So, as always in Author Pulley's work, there is a slow...slooow...burn into True Love. That the relationship is so suitable is weird. January had to travel to another planet to find True Love...and the balance of power, also as always in Author Pulley's work, is even but in a completely unexpected way.

What makes me happy when I know there is a new book coming from Author Pulley is that I know what I will get...musings on interpersonal dynamics, commentary on injustices that clearly cause her outrage and pain, the somewhat unrealistic Love Conquers All resolutions...but have not clue the first how she will take me where I already know we're going.

*happy sigh*

So, I hear you wonder, since you got exactly what you wanted, and enjoyed the trip to get it, where's that fifth star? The one thing I was a lot less than thrilled with was the bizarre and offputting de-extinction of wooly mammoths as part of the Martian terraforming because it felt uncharacteristically gee-whiz neato-keeno it's my book and I'll do it because I can legerdemain. It did not make any sense to me, though clearly there is a narrative srand to explain it. I just did not buy it. I was also not entirely convinced by the time it was set in...the kinds of changes on Earth seemed to be unusually late, for what I expect to happen based on current trends and on Mars way too soon. So, not quite able to ignore and go on with my suspension of disbelief.

These were not terrible sins...this is a novel, not a counterfactual scientific paper...and they are in service of telling a cracking good story. Very much a good place to start reading Natasha Pulley's work if you haven't already; and a great treat for your season of reading if you have.
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richardderus | 7 other reviews | Mar 20, 2024 |


Europe (1)
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