Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Yesterday’s Kin Trilogy #1
Publisher: Tor Books (July 11, 2017)
Length: 352 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars
Tomorrow’s Kin by Nancy Press is a first encounter science fiction story which expands on the author’s Nebula Award winning novella Yesterday’s Kin. While it has some explosive events and normal alien conspiracy elements to it, this story is more focused on its main character, Dr. Marianne Jenner, and the cutting-edge science at its heart.
Four months ago, an object heading toward Earth was discovered to be an alien spacecraft. Thankfully, the extraterrestrials were peaceful, placed their ship in orbit around the moon, and made contact with the United Nations to assure them of their peaceful mission. Eventually, the aliens received permission to launch a floating embassy in New York Harbor in exchange for sharing scientific data.
Since their landing on Earth, the aliens have remained apart from the world, communicating via electronic technology. But now they have requested a face-to-face meeting with a group of U.N. ambassadors and Dr. Julian Jenner, a little known geneticists.
From this setup, Nancy Kress tells a story focused on the global effects of the introduction of an invasive species on a planet. The scientific fields of both biology and genetics playing huge roles in the narrative; the author doing an outstanding job educating her readers about the important science at the heart of the story, yet never turning the tale into a dry scientific info dump.
The strength of the narrative is its main character Marianne Jenner: this fifty year old mother and soon-to-be grandmother an ordinary person. Certainly, she is a geneticists, who has made some important discoveries, but she still works at a second tier university, isn’t one of the rock stars of the scientific world, and lives a fairly normal life. No one would ever pick this lady out and label her a budding heroine. In fact, her relationship with her family and friends highlights how normal she really is, seemingly unsuited for aliens to ask to consult with her. And this “normalcy” is what grounds Tomorrow’s Kin, helps it maintain its focus as a story about humanity as opposed to a tale about science.
The main weakness here is the secondary characters; the most notable of which was Marianne’s assistant Sissy. None of these people really developed very much throughout their time in the narrative, remaining fairly static in their roles, and seemingly there only as a nod toward sci fi diversity. Personally, I felt a few strong supporting characters would have helped the story grow to be about more than just Marianne and her family.
With a plausible plot, understandable science, and a true-to-life main character, Tomorrow’s Kin is a very readable tale. Certainly, this will appeal more to readers who prefer there science fiction to be about real science, but with its simple prose and quick pacing, it is a tale I can see many sci fi fans enjoying.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.