by Joe Stech
I didn't know it was possible to both create a rich, convincing world and fit a riveting story arc into so few words. The Expert System's Brother does it effortlessly.
Without giving too much away, the story follows a young man who has been accidentally expelled from his village for biochemical reasons. Over the course of the book he discovers secrets about the history of his world and how it was colonized, while dealing with a self-proclaimed messiah intent on disrupting all human life on the planet. As in most stories of this type, the young man also learns some things about himself along the way.
The setting is one of planetary colonization, but the core tension of the story is the age-old push and pull between changing the world around us vs changing ourselves to fit the world. Tchaikovsky does a fantastic job at maintaining that tension while giving hints at mysterious technology and the motivations of the protagonist's ancestors.
The icing on the cake was the novel alien ecosystems that Tchaikovsky pipes so well. Discovering how the ecosystems function was a joy that could have stood independently from the rest of the story. Suffice it to say that I'm a fan, and I recommend that you pick this one up if you enjoy planetary colonization, unique ecosystems, mysterious ancient technology, coming of age stories, and expert systems.
You can find the book here: The Expert System's Brother (As an Amazon Associate Compelling Science Fiction can earn a small amount from qualifying purchases). As always, I did not receive any incentives (financial or otherwise) to review this book. I'm looking forward to reading the next one!