Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach
by Kelly Robson
published by Tor
One of the funnier recommendations I’d read for this book observed that it was hilarious that, even in the future, scientists will devote entirely too much of their time writing grant proposals. Yes, this book EMPHASIZES that in a way that feels a bit too real!
Without revealing any spoilers, this is a science fiction story of first contact (my definition of it), environmental devastation, underfunded environmental restoration, practical business applications of time travel, and the risks of the combining those things!
Robson tells the story in a non-linear way, which is fair and even appropriate for time travel stories. Her approach develops an excellent tension while reading: you know from the first page that something will go wrong, but HOW it will go wrong and how the wrongness will be resolved is the mystery.
Robson’s world-building is done well – you learn about the different ways humans have survived the devastation they wrought without being bogged down with too many details. The way the world works is experienced as characters accomplish other things, which is efficient and makes the characters’ efforts feel appropriate. It is great to have some grown-up characters in the book: people whose experience, scientific knowledge, and past successes made them valuable. (I live in a youth-worshipping culture, so this stood out.)
I had my doubts about the book during the proposal writing sections (because, as someone with a procurement certificate and experience writing grants: TOO REAL), but was rewarded for my persistence with a book I couldn’t put down once the time travel started.