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Tomorrow's Kin
by Nancy Kress
Tor, HB $25.99, 349 pages
Published: July 2017

What if aliens are not so alien? What if they are descended from humans who were transported to another world millennia ago and evolved into a distinct phenotype? And what if a space-borne spore cloud were headed straight for Earth, and present humanity faced extinction? Can the two strains of humanity trust each other enough to cooperate for a cure? Or will fear, mistrust, and violence issue in the worst die-off in 70,000 years?

Dr. Marianne Jenner’s obscure genome research is of critical importance to the aliens, so she finds herself conveyed to their mysterious embassy and invited to take part in the frantic race to develop a vaccine before the spore cloud hits. Her three adult children: Elizabeth  the border control officer, Ryan the ecologist, and Noah the hapless drifter, each react in their own way to the  arrival of alien-humans.

Sometimes a storm is weathered and it lasting harm is not immediately obvious.  As the spores trigger planet-wide changes, humanity finds itself challenged in ways it never anticipated. And the question that proves more divisive than any political conflict in history is: should we go to the stars, or not?

I liked the hard science and imaginative SF components of this story, from the explanations of genome evolution and ecological interdependence to the description of the drug sugarcane.  I found the high mortality rate traumatizing, yet, I concede it is realistic and in keeping with the experiences of many societies worldwide.

Tommorow’s Kin is Book 1 of a trilogy, and while the immediate issues are addressed by the story’s conclusion, there is still plenty to explore and resolve in subsequent volumes.  – Chris Wozney

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