Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Goldilocks

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Naomi is an expert in growing plants in the soil of an alien planet. She just isn't there yet. She has spent her career building up to this moment, only for it to be snatched from her grasp by politicians who don't want women in space. But her former boss has a plan. The future of humanity is in their hands.

Dr Naomi Lovelace has been many things over the years. Scientist. Criminal. Villain. Hero. Famous. Infamous.

This such an unapologetically science-based mission in space, and you can just tell Laura's been researching everything about space thoroughly (there's an event that's similar to something in a book I read last year, and it is so much more sensible and thought through than that other book). If you like books about space travel grounded in reality, add Goldilocks to your shelves.

The future in which it is set is one inspired by the slow erosion of women's rights by right wing politicians in the US, combined with escalating climate change. The planet's only hope is to find a new home, and the Atalantis is built to take the first crew to settle Cavendish. The ship was designed by women, with an all-female crew, until the president pushed women out of jobs, including the space programme. Knowing the replacement team would be a failure, Dr Valerie Black takes matters into her own hands, and they steal the ship.

It hadn't happened in a moment, but a series of moments, as slow and insidious as the melting of the ice caps. Women had been ushered out of the workplace, so subtly that few noticed until it was too late.

The book follows Naomi Lovelace, Dr Black's prodigy, who is the botanist on board, responsible for producing the crew's food, unappetising blocks made from algae, as well as establishing agriculture on Cavendish. Growing up Valerie?kept posing the trolley problem to her (that one about if you are in an out of control vehicle and you have to choose between hitting and killing one group over another), and this becomes relevant to the whole story.

As well as Dr Black, the crew is made up of Lebedeva a Russian engineer, Hart the medical doctor and Hixon, the pilot. There are hard choices to be made, as they evade any retaliation from Earth and make their way to a faraway planet that has only been visited by probes. And what about the people they left behind?

The astronaut mantra snaked its sneaky way through her head: expect the best but prepare for the worst.

I was drawn in by the science and sucked into the stories of the crew and the dilemmas they face. The characters are fully formed, and flawed, just as you'd expect. There's sadness and joy, and a whole lot of tension.

If you're wondering, the title is Goldilocks because Cavendish is in the sweet spot of not too hot and not too cold.

Goldilocks is published by Headline and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 30th April 2020. It's also the first book to be included in Goldsboro's Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fellowship membership, so head over there if you want a signed special edition. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

An unexpected seedling that should never have been able to take root and could still float away like a blown dandelion. Make a wish.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 31. A book with "gold," "silver," or "bronze" in the title

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Please also consider pre-ordering through your local independent bookshop.

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