For the Chicago Tribune, Gary K. Wolfe reviews Nancy Kress’ Yesterday’s Kin.
With so many overbudgeted and underthought movies involving giant alien spacecraft suddenly appearing above the world’s cities, it’s interesting to see what a skilled and experienced science fiction writer can do with this familiar trope. Nancy Kress has always written stories as accessible to the novice as to the seasoned fan, and “Yesterday’s Kin” gets my vote as this summer’s most inviting introduction to science fiction for new readers. It’s short, suspenseful, populated with well-drawn characters and based solidly in speculations drawn from evolutionary biology, particularly concerning human haplogroups — groups which share a common ancestor.
With the clock running, much of the plot plays out like other scenarios of impending apocalypse, but Kress’ skill in portraying the human reactions to the threat — particularly among Marianne’s own troubled family, each of whom comes to play an unexpected role in the outcome — gives the novel an almost intimate feeling of a family drama. This manages to unite with the scientific speculation and the large-scale spectacle in a small marvel of narrative economy that should appeal to the most occasional science fiction reader as well as the fan.
Read the rest of Wolfe’s review at Chicago Tribune (subscription required).
For more info on Yesterday’s Kin, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Thomas Canty.