The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchaikovsky (2018) 176 pages
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A daunting alien landscapeThe “brother” is a teenager named Handry who lives in a tiny village on an unnamed alien planet. His community of 317 people lives under rules laid down by the village Lawgiver. They live in the shadow of an immense tree at the mercy of a colony of wasps and other insects. An abundance of wildlife inhabits the land surrounding them, including a number of large and often dangerous six-legged animals. Handry and his fellow villagers eke out a meager existence farming nearby land, hunting the few edible species, and gathering the few local berries human beings can tolerate. But Handry is content with his life—until he is banished from the village following a freak accident.
An exceedingly clever science fiction storyHandry’s twin sister is Melory. Like the village Lawgiver, Melory has been inhabited by a “ghost” that issues orders and speaks in her name. (“Everyone was a servant of the village, it was true, but those ridden by ghosts had to share their very heads.”) The community’s doctor has died, and the sting of an insect had made Melory his replacement. Acting as the doctor, she makes Handry an outcast. The dynamics of the plot dictate that the twins will eventually reunite, but the circumstances—and the consequences—of their reunion will surprise you. Despite the initial confusion, The Expert System’s Brother offers a satisfying reading experience. In the end, it proves to be an exceedingly clever science fiction story.
For further readingI’ve included Adrian Tchaikovsky on my list of Six new science fiction authors worth reading now. I’ve also reviewed three of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s other novels:
- Children of Time (Children of Time #1) – Accelerated evolution is the theme in a superior science fiction novel
- Walking to Aldebaran – A science fiction novel that reads like a fever dream
- Firewalkers – A dismal, dystopian future where the climate has run amok
For more good reading, check out:
- These novels won both Hugo and Nebula Awards
- The ultimate guide to the all-time best science fiction novels
- 10 top science fiction novelsThe top 10 dystopian novels
- Ten new science fiction authors worth reading now
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, on the Home Page.