Tuesday, February 27, 2018

“Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach” by Kelly Robson

“Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach” by Kelly Robson,  176 pages, 
In Kelly Robson's grim-cli-fi but fascinating 23rd century, humanity has just begun to recolonize the surface after having been driven underground by massive deadly pandemics and catastrophic climate change. One of those working to develop footholds is an environmental scientist named Minh, a rather cranky middle-aged woman with prosthetic tentacles instead of legs, the result of one of those diseases. But some things haven't changed: Funding for scientific projects still depends on grant applications, unrealistic deadlines and bureaucracy; to make matters worse, most of this funding is drained off by the glamorous recent discovery of time travel.
So Minh jumps at the opportunity to use time travel to help restore the environment and assembles a team to visit Mesopotamia in 2024 B.C. to study a river system almost undisturbed by human action, the Tigris and Euphrates valley. But there they have to contend with Shulgi, the Mesopotamian king, to whom they appear as the gods or monsters of the title (the Lucky Peach is the name of their time machine).
Robson, who has garnered major award nominations in a career of only a few years, builds both her future and ancient worlds with convincing detail for such a short novel, populating them with characters who are believable and engrossing, even when they have tentacles. It's likely to be one of the most impressive debut novels of the year. Time travel can be part of cli-fi, too.

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