jueves, 30 de julio de 2015

English review: Yesterday's Kin, by Nancy Kress

(You can also read this review in Spanish/También puedes leer esta reseña en español)

Yesterday's Kin - Nancy Kress - Blog de ciencia ficción

Disclaimer: English is my third Language. I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.

The benefit of reviewing recent readings is that I have a fresh impression and it is easy to put into words here. Moreover, a further reflection provides a more detached perspective of the work, which is also desirable. As in many things in life, you cannot have the best of both worlds. 

In this case, a few moments ago I have just finished reading Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress.

In my previous review of the annual anthology by Gardner Dozois (sorry, this one only in Spanish) I mentioned that I enjoyed so much Pathways and One, the two great stories the author has in this anthology, so I really wanted to read this short novel published last year that won the Nebula Award and Locus Award, and also was finalist of the Theodore Sturgeon’s Award.

What is about Yesterday's Kin? As the title suggests, and the Charles Darwin’s quote at the beginning cleared if there was any doubt, an alien species has contacted humanity. It turns out that these beings who come from a very distant solar system are human -under a very exotic appearance due to its adaptation to a planet with very different conditions to our own, but nonetheless genetically humans-. The visitors have contacted our planet for a reason (which I refuse to explain here, but if you want it is on the synopsis of the novel). The plot is starring Marianne Jenner, a scientific geneticist, and her three sons. Because of his career, Dr. Jenner will be one of the privileged few humans which could visit the alien embassy located in New York, near the UN building.

I enjoyed the reading of this hard science fiction novel. Genetics is one of the favorite themes of the author, and it has always been treated from a rigorous viewpoint. By the way the novel touches other science fictional interesting topics (The Panspermia Theory, for instance) but they are secondary issues in the main story line.

As a criticism, I consider the relations between the characters and the plot are excessively coincidental, perhaps due to the limited development of this story told in just 192 pages. As a consequence the story loses plausibility. I appreciated how the author deals with the effects on the beliefs systems and expectations of mankind caused by the arrival of these alien beings, but otherwise it is always shown by the same characters and it seems somewhat forced to me.

About Nancy Kress I had previously read Beggars in Spain, a novel that not convinced me, despite the great premise based; and Probability Moon, also the first in a trilogy that not hooked me enough (I had to admit that I'm a bit harsh about sequels and N-logies in general). Instead, I highly recommend Yesterday’s Kin. Apparently she develops better in brief literature. I assure you that it will not be the last reading of this always interesting author.

PD: I want to thank my friends who have helped me in this first English review: Sense of Wonder, Dreams of Elvex and La casa de EL.

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