cover image The Expert System’s Champion

The Expert System’s Champion

Adrian Tchaikovsky., $15.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-250-76639-7

Tchaikovsky’s deliciously creepy sequel to The Expert System’s Brother showcases just how alien other worlds can be. In the decade since Handry was Severed from his village and assumed leadership of the Order of Cain, a society of fellow outcasts, he’s managed to create a loose network between the roving Order and the stationery villages of their unnamed planet. His sister, Melory, is host to an “expert system,” the ghost of a physician that serves as a source of ancestral knowledge. At Orovo, a regular stop on their travels, they are confronted by a new type of expert system, a Champion, hosted by a woman named Amorket and sent to fight the Order. As Handry and Melory negotiate with Amorket, another of the Order arrives to request aid in a war at the village of Tsuno, which is under siege by beasts called brackers. But the Order soon realize that the behavior of the brackers is beyond their ken—and even stranger threats lurk nearby. Woven throughout are flashbacks to the planet’s original colonization, as transplants from Earth struggle to adapt to their inhospitable new home. Tchaikovsky’s vision is bizarre, frightening, and wildly imaginative. Readers will be wowed. (Jan.)