Monday, October 06, 2014

Review: Yesterday's Kin

Book cover: Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress
Published September 9, 2014
by Tachyon Publications
Source: Netgalley

Aliens have landed in New York.

A deadly cloud of spores has already infected and killed the inhabitants of two worlds. Now that plague is heading for Earth, and threatens humans and aliens alike. Can either species be trusted to find the cure?

Geneticist Marianne Jenner is immersed in the desperate race to save humanity, yet her family is tearing itself apart. Siblings Elizabeth and Ryan are strident isolationists who agree only that an alien conspiracy is in play. Marianne’s youngest, Noah, is a loner addicted to a drug that constantly changes his identity. But between the four Jenners, the course of human history will be forever altered.

Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent human extinction—and not everyone is willing to wait.

When I saw that an advanced reader's copy of Nancy Kress's new novella, Yesterday's Kin was available at NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read and review it. I tend to avoid shorter works, but I will make an exception when the author is one whose previous works I've enjoyed. Nancy Kress is one of those authors.

Yesterday's Kin begins shortly after humanity's first encounter with aliens whom humans have dubbed “Denebs”. They have arrived, contacted world leaders through the U.N. and set up an embassy in the harbor near the UN building. But that's it. They hold conversations with humans through the U.N. and offer friendship and aid, but have not allowed any visual or in-person contact. Then, Marianne Jenner publishes a paper describing the discovery of a mitochondrial haplogroup in the humam genome. Shortly thereafter, the aliens invite her to visit their embassy. While there, they disclose that Earth will shortly pass through a cloud of spores carrying a virus deadly to humans as well as the aliens—proposing that humans collaborate with them to develop a cure.

All-in-all, this is an well-written story which has given me a lot to think about. I have to say that I enjoyed this book, but it left me wanting more. I would have liked to know more about the aliens and more about Marianne's children who play important roles throughout the story. Should Kress decide to expand the book to a full-length novel, I'd love to read it. Or, if there are more stories to be told about the Denebs themselves and the possible continued interactions between humans and Denebs, that might satisfy me. Are you listening, Ms. Kress?

By the way, the author has blogged at SF Signal about her fascination with genetic engineering and why she writes about it.

Note that I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Tachyon Publications via NetGalley.


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