Discover a shifting history of adventure as humanity clashes over whether to repair their ruined planet or luxuriate in a less tainted past.
In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity's ancestral habitat. She's spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.
I enjoyed this novella. It touches on a lot of different ideas and concepts that interest me. The characters are working to rebuild the surface of the Earth after severe ecological collapse and various other disasters have plagued humanity in the meantime, including a plague which lead to the main protagonist having prosthetic (tentacle) legs. It also touches on bodily autonomy and the morality of interacting negatively with people in the past if the timeline is erased when you leave (or is it?). While all these issues are interesting, Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach is still only a novella in length, so the issues aren't delved into in as much depth as they could be.
Before I finished reading, when I mentioned that I was part-way through this book, some people mentioned that they'd liked the book but not the ending, which made me a bit apprehensive. I bring it up because what I expected from their completely spoiler-free reactions was not at all what I got. In short, the ending was a little abrupt, which was slightly disappointing because I wanted to see more of what happened with the characters, but I thought it made sense in the context of the book. Actually, my main criticism is the way in which the rules of time travel remain a bit vague. One character tells the others what they are, but the other characters remain sceptical about some of them, so we, the reader, aren't sure whether to believe him either. Other aspects of the worldbuilding were more detailed, which I liked, but the uncertainty surrounding the time travel bothered me. Not enough to dislike the book, just enough to feel unsure about some of the resolution.
Overall, however, this was an entertaining read and I recommend it to fans of mid-future SF, climate apocalypse fiction, and also time travel stories. It's Hugo shortlisted is well-earned and I will be having trouble ranking it among the other novellas.
4.5 / 5 stars
First published: 2018, Tor.com
Format read: ePub
Source: Hugo Voter Packet