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The Scavenger Door, Suzanne Palmer 31 January 2022

2021 SF, third of its series. Fergus is just trying to settle back down with more family than he thought he had, but this time he's not even surprised when he gets involved in world-saving…

And yes, he does pretty much stumble on the alien remnant that he's uniquely well-equipped to deal with, but Palmer deals with this by hanging a lamp on it: people in the story also comment on how strange and inexplicable it is, and the weird alien tech in his guts may well have something to do with it. The plot soon moves on to a travelogue, as other remnants need to be found and recovered and (somehow?) destroyed, before they can all tune into each other and… well, that would be bad.

What this means in practice is that Palmer, who'd just discovered in herself a wish to do more international travel when 2020 happened, writes a series of vignettes of different places on an Earth recovering from climate catastrophe – and, gloriously in this day when dystopia is the In Thing, it seems that most of it is not a bad place to live for most people most of the time.

The Arctic Union Shuttleport was in the southwestern Nuuk region of the main island of Kalaallit Nunaat, set back from the canyon-riddled coastline on smoother inland tundra, once upon a time covered in invincible-seeming glaciers. Instead, now there were vast fields of solar panels with programmable reflectivity, those not needed for power consumption turned to white to bounce some of the sun's heat back out of the atmosphere. It was a small measure among many, and less controversial than the vast flotillas of white hexagons, two meters wide each and four meters apart, stretching across the ocean all the way to the Nunavut territories of the Union, taking the place of missing ice to bounce warming ultraviolet light back off the water's surface.

At the same time Fergus is up against multiple opponents, with different levels of funding and tradecraft, and the sister he didn't know he had has come along for the ride. He's tried to be sufficient to himself, but it turns out that having actual friends is both difficult to get used to and a hard habit to break.

He stopped under a tree and, in the shelter of its small canopy, quickly shed his hat and outer jacket, stuffing them in his pack out of sight. Despite the exertion, he shivered a bit in the stiff wind coming down the hill and glowered at Isla as she tucked away her own red jacket and pulled out a yellow one instead. At his look, she smirked back at him.

"You just happened to have two different-colored jackets with you?" he asked.

"Sure. Isn't that like Skullduggery 101?" she said. "I bought it in the ferry station while ye were taking yer sweet time in the loo. See, it's got the logo of their hoverslam team, the Magmatiks, on it. I totally blend."

This a lovely book, an effective blending of high-tension adventure with solid personalities and world-building. The writing style is enjoyable too; this is the first book for a while in which I've marked multiple passages for possible inclusion in the review. I make my usual suggestion about starting at the beginning of the series, but I think a new reader wouldn't be lost. Just generally excellent.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Previous in series: Driving the Deep | Series: Finder Chronicles

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