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Tomorrow's Kin: Book 1 of the Yesterday's Kin Trilogy    by Nancy Kress order for
Tomorrow's Kin
by Nancy Kress
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Nancy Kress's Tomorrow's Kin, first in her new Yesterday's Kin trilogy, aliens have landed in New York harbor, to communicate with the United Nations. They claim they cannot safely leave their Embassy ship, because of major differences in their world's atmosphere. They have come to warn Earth of impending disaster.

The story's protagonist is Dr. Marianne Jenner, whose research has resulted in the discovery of 'a new haplogroup of mitochondrial DNA' in the Homo sapiens genome. One day after the Denebs' arrival, Secret Service agents escort her, at the aliens' invitation - and along with the UN Secretary General - to the Embassy ship.

The Denebs reveal that their species was originally seeded from Earth, and that they have evolved differently from Earth humans. Since their World is a more benign planet, their social evolution has been especially different, resulting in 'evolution of the most cooperative', with a society 'organized around ancestral loyalty.'

As the plot thickens around this first contact, readers are introduced to Marianne's children - a loser, a cop and an environmental activist. She has a truly dysfunctional family, though they change roles in significant ways as the story progresses. In particular, Noah, a drug user who has always seemed to lose his way, comes into his own in the presence of the aliens.

How does this come about? While another team works desperately to find a vaccine to protect humans from the deadly spore cloud heading their way, the Denebs ask Elizabeth's team to process blood samples and 'identify members of the L7 haplogroup.' The aliens are trying to connect with family on Earth - why?

That question looms over this first episode, as misunderstandings arise, leading to sabotage and deaths. Conflict increases among Elizabeth's children, who take very different stances with regard to the Denebs. And, after the aliens leave and the spore cloud arrives, Elizabeth becomes an activist and speaker, for those who plan 'to take humanity to the stars.'

Kress's story twists and turns constantly, its end game hidden. The arrival of the spore cloud triggers enormous hostility towards the absent Denebs. Children born in this new age are very different. And humans are ready to head to the stars, but with differing goals. We'll just have to wait for more in the intriguing series to find out where all this is heading.

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