By Nancy Kress
There is some debate in real life (internally, with myself. Let’s leave this subject alone for mental health reasons) whether my reaction to the premise of this novel is nature or nurture. The premise of Tomorrow’s Kin is: Aliens come, dock in New York Harbor, talk only to the UN, and start calling genetic scientists. I was raised on Childhood’s End, Contact, Mote in God’s Eye, and Ender’s Game. I’m not sure I even remember pressing the the 1-click button.
BTW, I spoil, so be warned.
Tomorrow’s Kin is marketed as hard science fiction. The definition for hard must be changing a bit. There is science, for sure. But it ain’t science fiction without the science, no? I didn’t find any of the science to be particularly hard, except for a bit of genetics (spoiler alert – the aliens are a genetic offshoot of humans, and they’re looking for humans that are of the same type).
The first half dives into this mystery. Our hero, an obscure genetics professor whose adopted son is a drug addict and of the alien gene type. She helps the aliens find humans of this type. You can be pretty sure that they want something from these people. It’s a nice conflict for our hero that her son is a target, so she has some moral dilemma there. The aliens go away when a virus invades from space. They are susceptible to the virus, and want to save their kind on earth. That’s why they came.
Tomorrow’s Kin is really two novellas.
Because the aliens piss off when the virus comes, the aliens on earth story ends. The second half of the book veered off the path I was sold, which didn’t really make me happy. Kress introduces characters and relationships that were uninteresting. She subsequently drops the characters for no apparent plot-related reason. It takes a hundred some odd pages to get to the only seemingly relevant point, which is that humans got designs for ships from the aliens, and now they can fly them. Some humans want to go to the aliens’ home world and attack them with bio-weapons because they thought that the space virus was actually an alien plot.
And that’s how it ends.
I might read the next in the series when the paperback is in the used section.