Filled with social commentary, interesting scientific speculation, and the many mysteries hiding behind first contact with an alien civilization, “Tomorrow’s Kin” is an intriguing and sweeping science fiction saga. This is the first book of the “Yesterday’s Kin Trilogy,” which Kress has finished writing, which means fans won’t have long to wait for the next installment.
Kress tells her story in three distinct sections that follow three separate emergencies. In the first section, Dr. Marianne Jenner is called upon to help an alien species called the Deneb. Living on a technologically advanced floating pavilion in the New York harbor, the Denebs need help researching a potentially deadly space-bound spore cloud the Earth is about to pass through. As Dr. Jenner applies her scientific specialty to solving the approaching calamity, she begins to suspect the reticent Denebs are withholding something.
The second emergency involves a sweeping ecological change on the Earth caused by the spore cloud. The third emergency builds upon the outcomes of the first two sections and involves interplanetary conflict. Kress is interested in so much, and her sweeping novel covers a lot of scientific, ecological and political ground.
Dr. Jenner and her children are involved in all the emergencies to varying degrees, and it is their lives and suffering that give the novel room to breathe amid the shattering changes to the Earth.
The novel is smart with lots of speculation on a possible future. Kress writes with a straightforward style that helps make her big concepts understandable. The Denebs are quite believable. Their origin – and difference from Terrans – is compelling science fiction. (On the downside, I found that the frequent time jumps made the reading a little disjointed, and some of the minor characters felt like stereotypes, or plot devices.)
This is a solid science fiction novel with an original premise and some fascinating science that will lead readers to do their own research on some of the many subjects that drive the plot forward. Science fiction readers who prefer a focus on sociology, ecology, and family – versus a focus on hard technology – will find a smart, rewarding read that expands your understanding of the world today.