The novel “Terran Tomorrow” by Nancy Kress was published for the first time in 2018. It’s the third book in the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy and follows “If Tomorrow Comes“.
The spaceship Return brings the Earthlings back to their planet along with some inhabitants of World. However, due to the time dilation that happens during the trips, at their arrival, twenty-eight years have passed since their departure. During those years, things on Earth have changed more than the travelers could have imagined.
A bacteriological war waged by ecological extremists caused the death of 96% of human beings. The survivors are still at war and Dr. Marianne Jenner discovers that her grandson Jason Jenner is a colonel in command of one of the rare military bases in what used to be the USA. The arrival of the spaceship could affect an already unstable situation.
“Terran Tomorrow” concludes the Tomorrow’s Kin trilogy by bringing the narrative back to Earth after the second novel, “If Tomorrow Comes”, was set on the planet World, inhabited by the descendants of humans transported there many millennia earlier by someone unknown.
The first part of “Terran Tomorrow” shows the situation on the post-apocalyptic Earth with the various factions fighting. It’s not exactly a welcome back for the travelers and there are people who are hostile towards the World natives because the arrival of the original expedition from that planet marked the beginning of a series of events that led to biological warfare.
This first part is also the one that left me cold. The tones are really dark with the human civilization barely surviving, also thanks to the alien technologies offered by the first expedition arrived from World. Actually, very little is said about the global situation, as information is limited to a portion of what used to be the USA. The “fall” is also an inner one, in the sense that survivors often give in to their most negative instincts.
In a post-apocalyptic situation, Jason Jenner, who can be considered the novel’s main protagonist, must try to defend his base from attacks. It’s a situation that is exhausting for him and he often quarrels with his brother Colin, who is part of a group that would like to return to a pre-technological civilization. The return of his grandmother together with the other people aboard the spaceship Return complicates the situation even more. Maybe it’s the post-apocalyptic setting with its really heavy consequences but this time I was unable to really appreciate the various points of view offered by various important characters, which is usually one of the elements that I appreciate the most in Nancy Kress’s works.
The second part of the novel is more stimulating for me. Nancy Kress starts developing scientific ideas that have various ramifications which end up having even greater consequences than the ones explored in the previous novels of the trilogy. I’ve read similar ideas in Greg Bear’s novels before but they still seemed intriguing to me.
The ending includes some twists that convinced me very little. In general, they seem weak to me, with the consequence that the trilogy ends in a rather dull way. The theory on the identity of who is behind the origin of World’s population is presented but leaving the question open as if Nancy Kress herself realized that it wasn’t a great idea.
Honestly, I was hoping for a better ending to the trilogy. “Terran Tomorrow” still has some interesting parts but you probably have to appreciate post-apocalyptic stories to really like it. The overall opinion also depends on the individual reaction to the final twists. If you’ve already read the first two books of the trilogy, you may as well finish it.