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If Tomorrow Comes
by Nancy Kress
TOR Books; $27.99; 334 pp.
Published: March 2018

This is the second book in the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy. You can read this without having read the first book, but the previous novel really does give you a solid foundation of what’s happening here.

Briefly, at the end of Tomorrow’s Kin the alien/humans that showed up in New York harbor have left earth, leaving the plans for a space drive and ship so the Earthlings can follow them back to their planet. 

This novel opens with twenty-one people being squared away on board the Friendship. There are Army Rangers, a couple of doctors, diplomats and Marianne Jenner from the previous novel.  Jenner is really looking forward to reaching the new planet as her son has been living there for ten years. And just like that, things don’t go as expected. The star drives gets them to the planet much quicker than they thought, but they realize, there is a 28-year time lag between them and the folks on Earth that the visitors had not mentioned.

In the previous book, the aliens had come to Earth seeking a cure for a space-born spore that would decimate Earth and most of the aliens (The “aliens” are actually humans removed from Earth 70,000 years ago by another civilization and placed on an uninhabited planet.)  The Earth and their star-travelling cousins find a cure, just in the nick of time….

So, now, ten years later, Earth is ready to make a return visit to Kindred as planet is now called because the space-born spore is now headed there. The minute the Earthlings arrive at their destination, they discover  nothing is what they expected. Instead of shining gleaming cities of the future, they find very little in the way of advanced civilization, no satellites, only a few spaceships….

AND, right on the tail of the Friendship comes the Russian’s version of the starship they named Mest (Revenge in Russian). Central Asia was hard hit by the spore virus and more people died there than any place else on Earth. So they’re not happy with their space-faring visitors. They immediately blow up the main two cities and hit the Friendship causing the voyagers to crowd into a shuttle and get to the planet. The shuttle is then destroyed by another Russian hit.  Some of the folks on the Friendship are also killed.

So. Here they are on Kindred (which the inhabitants simply call World) with next to no technology. So their ability to work on a spore-killing vaccine is severely limited. The novel follows these stranded Earthlings as they struggle to fit in on Kindred and develop a cure. There are plenty of personality clashes and heart-wrenching failures and successes. This is really an intense look at two cultures clashing and trying to mesh, while coming up with enough vaccine to save Kindred from the now advancing spore cloud.

The powerful ending is satisfying.  However, this book begins with a scene that is completely not explained or integrated into the rest of the novel, so I’m not sure what the point of it was.  And of course, we are still left with wondering who the other alien culture was that took the humans from 70,000 years in the past and left them on Kindred. What’s their story? Why did they leave them with just enough technology….but no further contact?

Hopefully, in book three, due out in November 2018, we’ll get some answers. ~~ Sue Martin

For reviews of other titles in the series click here

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