Kristin Landon. Candlemark & Gleam, $20.95 trade paper (346p) ISBN 978-1-936460-79-3
After an eight-year hiatus, Landon (The Dark Reaches) returns with a complex fourth novel that combines dystopian and first-contact themes. Vika Jai, a young female xenobiologist, wakes from 40 years of cryogenic sleep to a ravaged ship and crew. Only three humans survive to make landfall on Shothef Erau, an inhabited planet known to have been bombed by an alien force. The lightly sketched backstory hints that Earth and Shothef Erau have a shared genetic history and may share a devastated future if Vika and her crewmates cannot transmit details about the alien attack to Earth. Vika negotiates first contact with Kelru, a native drawn to the lander’s flaming entry. He’s part of an urban, progressive academia, and his community is at odds with the matriarchal pastoralists, who quickly take custody of Vika’s party. The human presence radically escalates the native conflict. This is a quiet, tense book, saturated with dread. Vika, barely out of adolescence, is convincingly depicted as maturing just a hair too slowly in an environment with little room for error. The culture of the inhabitants of Shothef Erau, however, seems crudely designed, with societal roles wholly determined by sexual dimorphism. Agent: Caitlin McDonald, Donald Maass Literary. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/16/2017
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