cover image Another Life

Another Life

Sarena Ulibarri. Stelliform, $15.99 trade paper (154p) ISBN 978-1-77768-238-5

The sparse but evocative worldbuilding of Ulibarri’s brilliant solarpunk debut underpins a guarded optimism about the human condition. Galacia Aguirre is the Mediator and informal leader of Otra Vida, an intentional 2,000-person community on the edge of an artificial lake created in Death Valley to address California’s climate disaster. The big buzz in Otra Vida is a newly developed technology that mines a gene database to determine an individual’s past lives. As Galacia is challenged for the role of Mediator by Tanner Mendocino, a young Inheritor (second-generation Otra Vida resident), she struggles with a dark secret: her genetic profile shows her to be the reincarnation of Thomas Ramsey, the failed space colonizer generally regarded as the architect of Earth’s environmental ruin. Ulibarri makes the technology sufficiently plausible while resisting the urge to overexplain it, and depicts the enemies of the community straightforwardly but not in caricature, keeping the story grounded in quiet interpersonal dynamics and a thought-provoking exploration of how the past should inform the future. With an incisive exploration of postcapitalist, back to basics living and characters readers will root for, this perfectly balances big ideas and big emotions. (May)