Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress is a sci-fi novella about first contact with aliens that look fairly human and actually manages to tackle this subject in a believable way without making my science brain hurt :D. I am absolutely loving this trend of sci-fi fitting to the awesome discoveries we’ve made in science in recent years and cannot recommend Nancy Kress’s sci-fi writing enough. She succeeds at logically explaining ideas while still keeping readers on the edge of their seats because all of humanity is on the line!
Note: I received an advanced copy of Yesterday’s Kin from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress
Published by Tachyon Publications on Sept. 9th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Sci-fi
Page Length: 192 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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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.
- My number one frustration with sci-fi that tackles aliens is how absolutely improbable it is for aliens to look similar to us without some “early humans got transported to another planet and then lost contact with us” explanation. I’m thrilled that Kress both nicely explained how these aliens could look similar, why they could traverse the stars so much sooner than we could, and the slight differences they have because of the differences of their planet from Earth (slightly further from their sun leading to larger pupils for example :D). My only hope is that more sci-fi takes note of how Yesterday’s Kin handles aliens!
- Yesterday’s Kin is very much about family and what family means to different people. While the two main characters are mother and son, there are lots of developments due to sibling bonds and parent-to-child bonds. As I read Yesterday’s Kin I was more and more made to ask just how important bonds of family are to us as a society due to seeing differences with how the aliens view kinship.
- I was impressed with Kress’s ability to fit a complete story into the length of Yesterday’s Kin. One of the main ways she does this is by collapsing weeks of repetitive work into a few sentences and only focuses on the truly important moments instead of including lots of fluff. I really ended up viewing Yesterday’s Kin as a short book instead of a novella because of the depth of the plot.
- Even though the setting of Yesterday’s Kin is very similar to our current time, there were small details that made it clear that Yesterday’s Kin takes place in the near future but not now. I liked the details such as foldable screens for tablets and phones that we are close to having but don’t have quite yet.
- Because of the length of Yesterday’s Kin, there obviously had to be some sacrifices and those sacrifices were to world-building and character development. We only get to see a small part of the world and how the alien arrival has affected only a few people and I wanted to know so much more. I’m already finding myself hoping for another companion book to dive deeper into the aliens and how their arrival changed so much.
- The ending of Yesterday’s Kin was a bit of a surprise but ended up feeling a tad convenient. I of course won’t give anything away, but I did make a bit of this face when done: :-/. I suspect many readers will see the plot twists coming unfortunately.
Yesterday’s Kin is a great read if you are interested in something fast but with a premise that has interesting substance. You could even say nice and bite-sized philosophical pondering for a lovely afternoon ;-).
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
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© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.