cover image The Skill of Our Hands

The Skill of Our Hands

Steven Brust and Skyler White. Tor, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8288-7

Brust and White follow 2013’s The Incrementalists with this timely novel that examines immigration and police brutality through the device of a detective story. The story opens in April 2014 with Arizona activist Phil being shot and killed. Luckily for him, Phil is an Incrementalist, connected to other Incrementalists through a memory garden that allows them to pass along their personalities after the deaths of their bodies. They are also able to use the garden to gather information about people and “meddle” with them to positively influence events. Phil’s attempt to overturn Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration law, SB 1070, has gone disastrously awry, and now it is up to his friends to find a new person to host Phil’s consciousness and to solve his murder, even if that means visiting his past life in the bloody Kansas of 1856. The unclear source of the Incrementalists’ abilities makes this hard to categorize as fantasy or SF, but its examination of human responsibility in the face of inhumane policies strongly recalls some of Kim Stanley Robinson’s best work. Agent: Kay McCauley, Pimlico. (Jan.)