This one is weird… and I like weird! Octopus body-mods and a research trip to ancient Mesopotamia. It starts off as a story about mentorships and the goal of rehabitating the surface of planet Earth in a natural way. The addition of project economics and a world that is fully formed make this novella a rich story of the future circe 2267.
Minh and Kiki, mentor and mentee. The older scientist who is focused on rebuilding the Earth after people have been living underground for many generations. Several habs exist currently on the surface, and they are trying to expand the reach of the current population. A trip to the past will help them see how the Tigris and the Euphrates formed… but the banks, corporations, and a lot of bureaucrats hold the keys to their trip.
One thing that struck me was the constant use of VR that Robson writes into her vision of the future. The feeds for whispering (or commenting between people), the ability to call up visual holographic diagrams, and exist as a fake outside of one’s body. It’s an amazing piece of writing that really needs to be experienced. I am not doing it justice with my few sentences of description.
It took me awhile to understand the scope of this “future,” but once I was in the world, I was hooked. As all good SFF, it pushed my perceptions. Highly recommended!