cover image Kinning


Nisi Shawl. Tor, $28.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-250-21269-6

In this ambitious outing, Shawl broadens the scope of their alternate history of the early 20th century to show how the eponymous independent African country whose founding was the subject of their first book, 2016’s Everfair, interacts with the rest of the world. Now the two children of Everfair’s king, Princess Mwadi and Prince Ilunga, both claim the right to accession to the throne, while outside powers attempt to gain leverage in the kingdom’s politics. Meanwhile, Europe is in the midst of an influenza epidemic, for which a Chinese scientist has discovered a cure that involves spores that create empathic bonds between small groups of people. Siblings Tink and Bee-Lung set out to distribute the spores among residents of nations unwilling to accept them. There are so many characters and story lines to track that at times readers may become discouraged, but they’re in capable hands with Shawl, who has clearly done the research to create this expansive and well-crafted world. Those who stick with it will be happy they did. (Jan.)