A Half-Built Garden

EPUB, 352 pages

English language

Published July 4, 2022 by Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom.

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4 stars (8 reviews)

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.

The watershed networks aren't ready to give up on Earth. Decades ago, they rose up to exile the last corporations to a few artificial islands, escape the dominance of nation-states, and reorganize humanity around the hope of keeping their world liveable. By sharing the burden of decision-making, they've started to heal the wounded planet.

But now corporations, nation-states, and networks all vie to represent humanity to these powerful new …

3 editions

It was okay and cute

3 stars

I wanted to like this book more. And the beginning and the ending were compelling and easy to get through. I really liked the ideas about decentralized systems that was part of the world building, and how technology and nature can exist in symbiosis.

That said, perhaps I wasn't a fan of the writing style? There was a family drama in the center of the story, but I did not find those conflicts to add a lot of meaningful tension to the overall story.

Very interesting book, which I don't read as optimistic at all

No rating

Content warning Major plot and worldbuilding spoilers

I want to see more of this Garden

4 stars

I've found myself reading more Climate Fiction recently, not because I've been searching it out, I don't think, but because it's so much on everyone's mind that more is getting published. In any case, I would not have expected to enjoy it, but I've had a recent run of "climate fiction" that I would describe as optimistic. Possibly, it used to be that it felt like the urgent agenda re: The Climate was convincing everyone it was really that bad, but now it feels like the urgent agenda is convincing people that there is something to be done about it.

In any case, A Half Built Garden falls into the latter camp, but it is also a first contact story, which I am predisposed to like. In this story, the Earth is covered by autonomous but interconnected "Dandelion Networks" who work to restore Earth's ecology and strictly measure out their …

Queer solarpunk first-contact sci-fi

4 stars

As the title says: queer solarpunk first-contact sci-fi!

Recommended for anyone that liked:

  • the first book of the Wanderer series by Becky Chambers
  • for anyone solar-curious
  • for nerds with kids
  • for nerds without kids
  • for fans of peer-to-peer mesh networks (yes, really)

It definitely has some weird bits, not necessarily in a negative sense. I enjoyed this a bunch and kept telling people about during my travels in the past weeks—so that's probably a better recommendation indicator than anything!

The author even coined a potential subgenre in describing the book: diaperpunk!

Review of 'Half-Built Garden' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I enjoy a good first contact story. In this version aliens touch down in the Chesapeake Watershed. A woman is sent out in the middle of the night to monitor some new contaminants and stumbles across the spaceshipI quite enjoyed the world building in this story. In this version of the 2080s, river networks are the organizing basis for large populations of ecologically minded people who strive to live in cooperation while actively working to heal the Earth. Basically, take everything that would make conservative Americans start to hyperventilate and make a society out of it. I loved it. Can we have that please?
The people at the center of this story are a Jewish polyamorous queer couple with an infant who have just set up a household with two co-parents who have a toddler. They are just starting to work out how their household will function when they suddenly …

Really wonderful speculative fiction

5 stars

Wow this story blew me away. The future that the author paints and the way that the dandelion networks operate is really a true work of art. I loved the characters, the themes, and the perspective of this book. It gave me a spike in my already-elevated levels of climate anxiety right in time for the Inflation Reduction Act to get passed, so it coincidentally made that win much sweeter (even though that bill isn't perfect).

Giving the book 4.5 stars instead ofb5 because I felt a bit of a disconnect between my reading style and the authors writing style that made it difficult to comprehend some sentences on a first read. Nothing too difficult, just a bit of a disconnect where I had to read sentences a few times and it knocked me out of the reading flow.

This book is really beautiful because it does what we need …


  • Science Fiction
  • Aliens
  • Speculative Fiction