The Unbalancing: A Birdverse Novel


Product Details

$17.95  $16.69
Tachyon Publications
Publish Date
5.08 X 8.0 X 0.69 inches | 0.49 pounds

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About the Author

R. B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their stories and poems have appeared in Queers Destroy Science Fiction!, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny Magazine, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, and many other venues. Lemberg's work has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards. Their debut Birdverse novella, The Four Profound Weaves, came out from Tachyon in 2020; the novella was nominated for the World Fantasy, Locus, Nebula, and Ignyte awards and it was selected for the Otherwise Award Honor List. You can find more of their work on their Patreon ( and a full bio at


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"The lush lyricism of the mythology, culture and history in The Unbalancing is illustrious and transportive. It's an enchanting world of star lore, magic and gender identity."
--Tlotlo Tsamaase, The Silence of the Wilting Skin

"In all their fiction from the fascinating Birdverse world, Lemberg centers marginalized identities: queer, trans, neurodiverse, elderly, and more The Unbalancing is Lemberg's first novel-length book to take place in the Birdverse. It's a poetic and magical Atlantis-esque novel and a perfect introduction to the Birdverse. ."

[STARRED REVIEW] "This first full-length novel in Lemberg's acclaimed Birdverse (The Four Profound Weaves, 2020) shines with the author's signature lush, dreamlike prose and nuanced explorations of trans and queer identity. The islands of Gelle-Geu are disturbed by a star that sleeps fitfully beneath the waves, its nightmares rocking the land with earthquakes increasing in frequency and severity. New starkeeper Ranra is determined to do whatever it takes to learn what is wrong and fix it to save her home from destruction. Poet and gardener Erígra Lilún is descended from the first starkeeper, Semberí. Semberí insists that Erígra is the only one who can wake the star and end its devastating nightmares, but Erígra has no interest in being starkeeper. Ranra and Erígra are instantly drawn to one another and fall into a romantic relationship even as the danger to Gelle-Geu increases. Both Ranra and Erígra have challenging and gratifying personal growth arcs, approached with the same thoughtfulness and determination the characters bring to bear on the threat facing their community. Lovingly crafted with a deep and rewarding world full of complex characters who are often LGBTQIA+ and/or neurodiverse, this is an outstanding novel from a rising star in fantasy fiction."

"R. B. Lemberg's Birdverse is one of my favorite places to visit, full of queer possibilities and deep emotional and philosophical musings. In The Unbalancing they give us wonder, devastation, resilience, and love."
--Julia Rios, Hugo Award-winning editor of Uncanny Magazine

"Set in Lemberg's Birdverse, this lyrical fantasy novel is a queer, nonbinary Atlantis retelling about a starkeeper and a poet who fall in love while working together to save the island they live on. There is found family, ghosts, neurodivergence, a unique magic system, and a wonderful balance of thoughtful world-building with intense character work."

"The finely wrought first full-length outing into Lemberg's inclusive and lushly folkloric Birdverse universe (after the novella The Four Profound Weaves) begins centuries after the goddess Bird carried 12 stars into the world.... Brisk action balances the meditations on gender and glimpses of the complex magic system as this unpredictable tale wends to an intense and deeply moving climax. It's bittersweet and lovely."
--Publishers Weekly

"There's so much to cherish in The Unbalancing, a stand-alone novel in Lemberg's Birdverse series. The relationship between Lilún and Ranra beautifully captures the spikiness and tenderness of a new connection that could turn into something beautiful. The world-building is full of deep lore and casual queerness, and Lemberg's magic system is appropriately wild and poetic."
--Washington Post

"The intricate world of magical names and variations of gender identity provide nuance and character growth while still providing enough action to build to its climactic end. VERDICT Lemberg's first full-length novel in their lauded 'Birdverse' (following the novella The Four Profound Weaves) showcases elegant and lyrical prose to create an immersive romantic fantasy."
--Library Journal

"In a narrative by turns gentle and implacable, Lemberg writes movingly and magnificently about disaster, survival, and hope."
--Kate Elliott, author of the Crown of Stars series

"The first full-length novel in the expansive Birdverse series, The Unbalancing is an LGBTQ+ fantasy overflowing with heart....No prior knowledge of the Birdverse is necessary to appreciate the worldbuilding of this novel."

"Readers of Lemberg's poetry and fiction will delight in The Unbalancing, which expands the geography of the Birdverse beyond the city of Iyar and the Great Burri Desert, the backdrops for events in Lemberg's Nebula-award finalist, The Four Profound Weaves (2020)."

"Beautiful and queer and challenging and tender. And it's a story that could not have been told without Erígra's autistic point of view, without a deep respect for needs like Erígra's, which comes from lived, thoughtful experience."
--Autistic Book Party

"Despair, love, survival, death, identity, and community are intimately intertwined in the Birdverse. This is one of the most beautiful and important books I've read this year."
--Nibidita Sen, Hugo, Nebula, and Ignyte Award-nominated author

"[The Unbalancing] impacted me greatly, yes, you should read this book. [It] is a respite and a consolation. It made me cry, and gave me strength."
--Trans Narrative

"A beautiful and nuanced work about love, power, and magic."
--Quick Sip Reviews

"A novel at times raging, at times romantic, but through everything beautiful and powerfully human."
--Charles Payseur, author of The Burning Day

"Reading this book is like diving into the most beautiful language exploring various aspects of human possibility. Everything in this book is so fluid from the words, the setting itself, but also the characters--the way they think, the way they feel, and the way they present."
--Infinite Text

"Beautiful and queer and challenging and tender. And it's a story that could not have been told without Erígra's autistic point of view."
--Ada Hoffmann, Philip K. Dick Award finalist and author of The Outside

5/5 stars."Lemberg's prose is soaked in magic, magic that's full of space and light and sound. The Unbalancing manages to be both ethereal and earthy."
--Craig Laurance Gidney, author of A Spectral Hue

"This is a story about a magical star with dark origins, a beautiful archipelago, a wise and appealing culture whose people are free in their lives and loves, some of the best nonbinary rep I've seen in SFF fiction . . . The Unbalancing is a beautiful novel, and a welcome ramping-up of Lemberg's Birdverse."
--Crane Hana Books

"An exquisite marriage of imaginative world-building, insightful relationships, and a compelling story . . . As with Lemberg's previous novella, The Four Profound Weaves, The Unbalancing is a tale of emotional power and superbly handled prose that often approaches poetry in its nuance and poise. Highly recommended."
--Deborah Ross

"Full of love, and connection, and hope; and a sense that destruction is worth struggling against even when the odds are overwhelming."
--Nerds of a Feather

"In The Unbalancing, one protagonist begins at the center of her society's power structure, but her desire for the novel's other lead opens her up to understanding a positive self-abnegation in relationships--even at the cost of her home."
--Strange Horizons

"This is my first introduction to Lemberg's Birdverse and I look forward to spending more time in the gorgeous world they have created."
--Just Geeking By

"Queer and, well, wholly wonderful."
--Llama Reads Books

5/5 stars. "A a beautiful read . . . I love this diverse world with queer characters and all kinds of families."
--Book Blogging

"The Unbalancing is amazing. R.B. Lemberg is a skilled worldbuilder."
--Dori Mondon

"The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg was one of my favorite reads in the first half of the year, and now The Unbalancing has taken up its space beside it for this half of the year."
--Wayseeker's Books

"Sexy and unexpectedly intense, with a deep focus on consent and mutual respect."
--Jo Writes Fantasy

"Nebula, Locus, and Ignyte finalist R. B. Lemberg delivers a beautiful tale about a world where 12 stars slumber throughout the world."

Praise for The Four Profound Weaves

Buzzfeed Best Book Releases of the Week
Publishers Weekly 2020 Top-10 Fall SF, Fantasy, and Horror
Autostraddle Queer and Feminist Books Coming Your Way in 2020Ms. Magazine Reads for the Rest of Us
2020 Washington Post Gift Guide
2020 UK Independent Gift Guide

"The Four Profound Weaves contains imagery that glows on the page."
--Patricia A. McKillip, author of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

[STARRED REVIEW] "Nebula-nominated Lemberg's first novella, set in their deeply queer "Birdverse" universe, presents a beautiful, heartfelt story of change, family, identity, and courage."
--Library Journal

"Thoughtful and deeply moving, The Four Profound Weaves is the anti-authoritarian, queer-mystical fairy tale we need right now."
--Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous and The Future of Another Timeline

[STARRED REVIEW] "Lemberg's outstanding debut novel expands on the short stories of the Birdverse that they have been publishing for about a decade...This diverse, folkloric fantasy world is a delight to visit.
--Publishers Weekly

"R.B. Lemberg writes with a luminous pen, spraying light all around their words and ideas."
--Jewelle Gomez, author of The Gilda Stories