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Elder Race

Someone on the Internet recommended Elder Race the other day, and my library had the ebook available, so sure! Adrian Tchaikovsky is almost always a good read at minimum and he does a lot of work at novella length which is exactly right for a bit of reading before bed.

It’s good! It’s much more of a horror story than I expected. From the blurb you’d expect an action-adventure tale with a lot of fantasy trappings disguising high tech, and there’s plenty of that, but there’s also some truly horrific notes that I won’t spoil. I also liked that it avoided turning into a romance, because not everything has to be that.

Tchaikovsky is in the hard SF tradition. In a lot of his work, you get the sense that he’s writing it in part because he wants to work out the implications of an idea. In Elder Race, there’s one very clever typographical bit where the junior anthropologist explains something in his terms and there’s a side by side column showing what the natives think he means. Fortunately he’s a good enough writer so that it’s fun watching him work through the details.

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