Kirkus Reviews QR Code
IN ASCENSION by Martin  MacInnes


by Martin MacInnes

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2024
ISBN: 9780802163462
Publisher: Black Cat/Grove

A woman goes to the deepest parts of the sea and the farthest reaches of space.

Raised in Rotterdam by an abusive father and an absent yet well-meaning mother, Leigh turned to the waterfront as a means of escaping the day-to-day difficulties of family life. Her fascination with undersea worlds leads her to study marine ecology and microbiology, and she develops an expertise in algae. As a young scientist, she joins a mission to investigate a hydrothermal vent that’s mysteriously appeared in the floor of the Atlantic Ocean and may be three times the depth of the Mariana Trench. Discoveries from that mission change Leigh’s life, as well as the trajectory of the scientific world. New objects are found in space, perhaps related to the hydrothermal vent, and Leigh gets tapped to develop an algae-based food system for an upcoming deep-space launch to investigate potential life. But when her mother’s health begins to decline, Leigh must consider whether to return home or explore the wonders lying at the far reaches of the solar system. Written in straightforward, measured prose, the novel features a world similar enough to our own that the scientific discoveries seem nearly plausible, even when they play with the boundaries of our imagination. The novel lags during dialogue-heavy scenes; the characters’ interactions can be somewhat stilted and drawn out, and Leigh’s steady and often monotone narration can be frustrating in its lack of emotional edge. But readers of speculative fiction will appreciate this intellectually rich addition to the canon, which considers what new discoveries might tell humans about ourselves and the planet we inhabit.

An interesting investigation of home and interpersonal responsibilities through deep-sea and far-space travel.