Review copy provided by the author, who is a dear friend.
This is in the same universe as Ancestral Night, and some of the major characters of the are minor characters here. I actually howled, “Mantis COOOOOOOOP!” at one crucial point. (Mantis cop. Mantis cop.) But also there’s a whole slate of new characters to enjoy including Mantis cop’s timid compatriot omg this species okay I am fine now. I’m fine.
But really though: I have not had enough fun science fiction where humans and aliens have established friendships and working relationships, lately. It is a subgenre I like so much, and I basically never have enough of it. And this one has hospital drama! And faster-than-light travel drama! And people doing their best to get their heads together!
There is also some serious consideration of community, and of how to handle breaches of trust, both individual and community. The questions of how to be a functioning adult that come up in Ancestral Night are foundational, but this one expands on them further. With multiple-atmosphere hospital drama and mantis cop. I really really like this, okay? You’re going to want one. It’s a prime example of Bear continuing to grow as a writer–and I liked the stuff she started with.