RogerBW's Blog

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson 30 June 2019

2018 SF novella. In a world where environmental collapse has forced everyone underground (how they ate while there is not explored), Minh is of the generation that came up and started to reclaim the surface. But time travel has apparently taken all the funding away.

Well, someone finally did it: a team of time travellers even wetter than the ones in Connie Willis. Even though they've grown up as aliens on an Earth that can't support outdoor human life any more, they regard the distant past as completely non-threatening, and are entirely surprised when it turns out to be dangerous.

And there are struggles for finance which are no different from modern ones even though it's a few hundred years in the future and post eco-collapse; and, though everyone's always talking about scrimping and saving money, it's apparently trivial to have your legs removed and replaced with tentacles, and this is a thing people do.

There's lots of atmosphere. Which is a good thing, because the plot is close to non-existent. If I'd liked the atmosphere, I might have enjoyed this story a bit more. Or if the characters had had motivations for the stupid things they do other than "because if I don't, the story won't come out the way the author wants it to".

A sequel is planned, which I suppose is a good thing because this certainly isn't a complete story. But this had absolutely nothing to say to me, in spite of its deliberate attempts to appeal with a middle-aged female protagonist and other distancing measures from boring old-fashioned SF.

The more Kelly Robson I read, the more I fear A Study in Oils may have been a high point as far as entertaining me goes. (Which of course isn't and shouldn't be her goal, unless there are a lot of readers like me.)

(This work was nominated for the 2019 Hugo Awards.)

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