Goldilocks – Laura Lam

Ravaged by environmental disaster, greed and oppression, our planet is in crisis. The future of humanity hangs in the balance – and one woman can tip it over.
Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.
It’s humanity’s last hope for survival, and Naomi, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity like this – to step out of Valerie’s shadow and really make
a difference.
But when things start going wrong on the ship, Naomi starts to suspect that someone on board is concealing a terrible secret – and realises time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared…

Reader, I loved this book. It’s smart, on-the-button near-future sci-fi with a cracking cast, a plot that goes from zero to escape velocity pretty much on page one, and doesn’t let up.

Earth is, not to put too fine a point on it, screwed. Environmental issues and overpopulation have pushed her past the tipping point and humanity has maybe thirty years left. Luckily humans have one last hope – an exploratory ship going out to Cavendish, an exosolar planet in the habitable ‘Goldilocks’ zone around a star ten light-years away.

At the last minute, the all-female crew are replaced by men (rampant misogyny abounds in the future here, all too plausibly, alas), but lead by Valerie Black, the hand-picked crew promptly steal the spaceship and go anyway.

Hijinks ensue.

And what hijinks they are. Valerie Black and her crew are up against it all – criminals in the eyes of the men in charge back at home, but a shining beacon of hope for humanity, they must steal the Atalanta out from under the nose of NASA and embark on a perilous voyage, first to Mars, then on into interstellar space.

I loved it. Loved the dynamics between the women on board the Atalanta, loved the meticulously researched science, the climate science, botany, cryonics feel really… real. The blurb compares the book to The Martian in that regard, though Goldilocks‘ Naomi Lovelace is less ‘look how smart I am’ Watney, and hugely more relatable for it.

For all its sci-fi stage dressing (and immaculate dressing it is), Goldilocks is, at heart, hugely character-driven, and ultimately hopeful. It would make a brilliant film. Netflix, if you’re out there, get on it.

Superb. Highly recommended.

Goldilocks by Laura Lam is published by Wildfire on 30th April 2020.

Many thanks to Wildfire Books for the advance NetGalley copy to review, and to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Laura Lam is the author of several science fiction books, including Radio 2 Book
Club selection False Hearts. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in anthologies such as Nasty Women, Solaris Rising 3, Cranky Ladies of History,
Scotland in Space, and more.
Originally from California, she now lives in Scotland with her husband, and
teaches Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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