cover image The Terraformers

The Terraformers

Annalee Newitz. Tor, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-22801-7

Newitz (The Future of Another Timeline) performs a staggering feat of revolutionary imagination in this hopeful space-opera built from three interconnected novellas. “Settlers” opens on Destry Thomas, a ranger with the Environmental Rescue Team on corporate-owned planet Sasky, as she stumbles on a fiercely independent underground society, Spider City. Discovery puts Spider City at risk, while showing Sasky’s surface-dwellers a new possible future. In “Public Works,” a crew of bots and hominins grows from uneasy colleagues to found family while trying to design a planetwide public transport network. They’re undermined at every step by their corporate overlords, until they reach Spider City, where every being is a person, and a radical new solution presents itself. “Gentrifiers” sees a planetwide housing crisis bring together a sentient train, Scrubjay, and Moose, a cat journalist. As unrest erupts across Sasky’s big cities, Scrubjay and Moose race to lend aid, in the process uncovering a shocking secret that could be key to breaking the corporate stranglehold over the planet. Newitz masterfully grapples with questions of embodiment and personhood, exploring the power of coalition and the impossibility of utopia under capitalism. With the ethos of Becky Chambers and the gonzo imagination of Samuel R. Delany, plus a strong scientific basis in ecology and urban planning, this feels like a new frontier in science fiction. (Jan.)