The Mimicking of Known Successes
The Mimicking of Known Successes is perfect in every way. Crafting a short, punchy mystery in the style of Holmes and Watson, in an entirely science fictional setting, but keeping all the details that tie the mystery together crisp, accessible, understandable--this book is perfect. I'm astounded by it, on a technical level, and squeeing in delight about it on a fan reader level. 10/10
To get into my technical awe a little more: this book is like 175 pages long. It's definitely a novella. And in that space, Older uses the known (academia, the tradition of Holmes and Watson's relationship dynamic) to illuminate the unknown (human settlement on the outskirts of a gas giant's atmosphere, a settlement entirely built of giant metal rings of rail that encircle the entire planet, fueled by the gases drawn from the atmospher, covered in wind and fog). It's a big, weird world, with big, weird social customs (different platforms have different social rhythms, there doesn't appear to be much of a government, the entire society is geared around someday returning to Earth to rescue it), but we see it through the genre framing of a murder mystery. This surely helps Older fit it all into frame--the worldbuilding details are explained simply and clearly, in the manner of an investigator talking through a crime scene. But I'm still so impressed at the way she uses voice, small details, and the unraveling of the mystery to bring this world to life.
And not just a world, a whole ass romance! The tropes of Holmes and Watson are obviously incredibly helpful here. Holmes and Watson love each other in every iteration of their story. In this iteration, Mossa and Pieti have already been lovers, in university, and broke up because they weren't compatible in that stage of their life. But now they must work together again to solve this crime, and so of course they're still into each other and of course they grow to respect each other again. It's not a difficult romance to pull off. But to do it in 175 pages, while also writing an entire murder mystery and an entire world history!
I'm impressed. And I'm also just pleased. What a great book. What a hashtag goals project to get to read. It even caters to my special interest in fabricated ecosystems. Love it.