Novella Review: Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach – Smart Eco Scifi

Gods, Monsters

Title: Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach
Author: Kelly Robson
Publisher: Tor.com
Release Date: March 13th, 2018
Genre: Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalypse
Subjects and Themes: Time Travel, Ecology
Page Count: 240 (paperback)

Rating: 7.5/10

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First of all, can we just take a moment to appreciate how fantastic that cover is?

Secondly, to all you scifi-loving field biologists and ecologists out there, this book is for you.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach takes place on future Earth where everything has collapsed; due to rising sea levels, natural disasters, and a plague outbreak, many of our modern cities decided to dig underground and create a new home in the Earth’s crust. But time travel has become a viable thing in the last decade or so and it’s a very, very attractive option to a lot of people–a nudge here and there in the past might, after all, bring about a restoration of the economy, population, and of course, the ecosystem.

Our protagonist Minh wants to form a small team of scientists to travel back to ancient Mesopotamia (2024 BCE) to study the old ecosystems that helped birth so many early civilizations. Minh also just happens to be a woman with fully-functioning octopus arms in place of human legs. Prosthetics in this world have developed to the point where people can choose to attach various animal appendages to their bodies instead of the boring old human ones. It’s details like this that make the world fascinating and complex.

The first half of the story is a lot of logistics and your enjoyment of it will vary depending on how much you like reading about the behind-the-scenes of research projects–the proposal writing, the begging for greenlighting and funding (which readers in research fields should sympathize with. Or have horrible flashbacks to). It is a bit dry in places, but I liked it for the most part.

“This is a seduction…If you want to time travel, we need to get the client in bed with us.”

The second half sees our characters in Mesopotamia and that’s where the real fun begins. I loved this part and was positively green with envy at the characters. I mean, how cool would it be to have your field project take place in an ancient era? (Ignoring the problem of “virus strains were far more potent in the past, so you’d probably die before you can say “Eureka!”). Pretty cool.

My biggest complaint is that it ends rather abruptly and just as when things were getting really interesting, which is a problem I have with many one-shot novellas (assuming this is one-shot).

All in all, if you have any interest in environmental science, time travel, and eclectic characters, you might want to give this a shot.