It opens in the far past as a King meets a monster and he knows what he has to do. After all, Kings were made for killing monsters.
In the far future of 2267, everything has gone to shit after a series of ecological disasters forced humans to find alternative living underground in “hells” that succumbed to plagues and epidemics over and over.
But humanity still endures—and the surviving plague babies made their way to the top of the world and created new habitats. With funding from big banks and the science that helped plague babies like environmental researcher Minh (our main character and main viewpoint narrator) to shape a new world, humanity was able to thrive aboveground again, with the prospect that long term ecological projects might make things ok.
(As an aside, it is just me, or has the number of post-apocalyptic stories that take place after ecological disasters increased tenfold recently? Nothing wrong with that, expect for the fact that it really just hits home how much I believe that we are all doomed.)
With the future of humanity seemingly secured, the plague babies felt safe enough to bring more children into the world through the creation of creches after which fat, healthy babies were born. One of them is Kiki, an eager assistant that works under Minh.
But things have not been quite so good lately. A few years ago, a shady organisation called TERN invented time travel—since then, shorter-term, flashy projects are the ones investors are interested in. To Minh’s ongoing frustration with companies, banks and humanity in general, no one seems to care about ecological projects anymore. So when Minh is invited to create a project to take a team—herself, Kiki, her friend Hamid and a TERF overseer and safety expert—to ancient Mesopotamia to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in order to bring them back to life in the future, she says yes, to startling consequences.
And this is only the beginning—there is so much going on in this novella by Kelly Robson that is difficult to even wrap my head around the many details included here. From intriguing worldbuilding to thought-provoking themes, from thoughtful character development to a storyline that grows tense and tense with every chapter, Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach is fun, engaging, incredibly rich and devastatingly bittersweet.
Each chapter opens with a snippet from the past—going back to the first line of this review—in which a King is faced with monsters arriving in his kingdom. We know that these “monsters” are Minh and her team as not only to they bring tech impossible to grasp by ancient civilisation but they also have physical biotech that has transformed their bodies into supercool biotech chimeras.
The two timelines will of course, eventually converge—past and future being one and the same in this river called history, in this super great novella that ends with an unexpected, beautiful openness.
Also, time travel is cool.
In Booksmugglerish: 8 out of 10.