However, the author juggles family and national matters with expert precision in Yesterday’s Kin, mostly through the way story perspective switches between Marianne and Noah for the length of the story. She expertly teases readers along with one revelation after another. Some of those reveals are central to the aliens’ reason for visiting, while others are more personal to the characters themselves, who are realistically drawn with varying degrees of likability, but always with imperfections. Kress also does an excellent job portraying the impact that the aliens arrival has on society, not just via humorous-but-probably-accurate pop culture influences, but also in reactions caused by fear and uncertainty. Can the aliens be trusted? If they are lying, what is their true motive?
These are some of the interesting questions posed by the novella-length Yesterday’s Kin while it dabbles in themes of selfishness vs. cooperation and delivers a cool science fictional premise (along with a lot of genetic science) in the process. The ending has the dual benefit of being one that is (mostly) unexpected and wholly satisfying. Nicely done.
It’s a pretty short book, but the stories are high quality and help flesh out Arlen’s character. If you missed the Subterranean Press editions, then this is a good time to get the stories. If you’ve never read Brett, it’s a great sampler of his work and will whet your appetite for more.
Don’t get me wrong; the best stories here are very good indeed. ‘‘His Master’s Voice’’ has already been anthologized three times, and is as rich in posthuman (almost post-biological) invention as his novels, and ‘‘Tyche and the Ants’’ (from Strahan’s Edge of Infinity and included in Dozois’s Year’s Best) is perhaps the best example in short form of how Rajaniemi can deploy his radically defamiliarized worlds in the service of a tale that is both humanly engaging and genuinely touching. ‘‘Elegy for a Young Elk’’ (three year’s bests) does much the same sort of thing, but also shows how Rajaniemi can make effective use of the natural settings of his native Finland as well as inventing a strikingly original postsingularity city of the sort that was so convincing in the novels. ‘‘The Server and the Dragon’’ (anthologized three times since its appearance in Strahan’s Engineering Infinity) is a tour de force of finding lyricism in a story that features no human characters at all, and that practically takes us beyond Greg Egan territory in telling of a lonely ‘‘server’’ sent out to seed the universe from a ‘‘darkship,’’ and its encounter with an equally abstract (but at least visualizable) ‘‘dragon.’’ ‘‘Deus ex Homine’’ (two year’s bests) concerns a ‘‘godplague’’ and an ongoing war involving AIs and humans. These stories alone are enough to demonstrate Rajaniemi’s strikingly original talent.
And lastly, BIBLIOTROPIC included Daryl Gregory’s extraordinary Nebula, Locus, Shirley Jackson, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy award-nominee WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY FINE on their Best of the First Half of 2015.
For more on YESTERDAY’S KIN, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Thomas Canty.
For more info about THE GREAT BAZAAR & BRAYAN’S GOLD, visit theTachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story.
For more info on HANNU RAJANIEMI: COLLECTED FICTION, visit theTachyon page.
Cover art by Lius Lasahido
Design by Elizabeth Story
For information on WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY FINE, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story.