Book Review: Goldilocks, Laura Lam
Science Fiction: Goldilocks, Laura Lam
Goldilocks surprised me at nearly every turn. I read enough that it is not easy to do that. Certain plots, certain tropes, certain themes often recur in fiction. Goldilocks toys with them, then casts them aside to become something new. This is a very good novel.
First, the name. The “Goldilocks Zone” is a designation given to areas around stars which are “not too hot and not too cold.” Planets of near Earth size that orbit their suns in that zone could have liquid water, and could arguably sustain life. Perhaps they could even sustain human life, were we able to get there.
Not many years in the future, America is ruled by a misogynistic yet charismatic president who has set a tone in public life that discourages women from full participation. Abortion is outlawed. Women are allowed to bear one child, but a prohibitive tax awaits a second birth. Women are also required to take five years away from work to care for their child. Not quite “Handmaid’s Tale” stuff, but frighteningly close to home for those of us living in today’s USA.
Naomi Lovelace should be an astronaut. However, being a woman, she never will get her dream of going into space and exploring the Goldilocks world of Cavendish, a world that looks perfect for human habitation. Then her adoptive mother steps in. Valerie Black is rich and ruthless. Her company has been frozen out of the space race after building much of the infrastructure allowing it. She devises a solution: steal the first interstellar ship and take it to Cavendish herself.
Black and Lovelace are joined by three other women, and together they embark on a journey that could end in death or prison just as likely as it ending on a new planet. Author Laura Lam takes us on their journey, with more than a few flashbacks to provide context and backstory. As you may expect, there are technical hurdles, emotional tensions, and relationship dynamics that become magnified in the cold and dark of space. What I did not expect, though, was how events could change not only the women themselves but the entire plot of the book.
What do you seek in life? For some, the question is easily answered: a career, a family, a reputation, a goal. For others, though, the answer is not as clear. Can I achieve my career goals and have a family? Can I keep my reputation while achieving my goals? For Naomi her answer has always been the same: get to Cavendish. She is, she believes, willing to do anything to get there, including stealing a ship. But when the price of achieving that goal begins to add up, it leads to some dramatic plot twists and changes that kept this reader racing to get more. Lam saves some of her biggest plot twists for the very end, an ending that was both surprising and utterly satisfying.
At its best, science fiction is just fiction. You have people rubbing against other people, making wise and poor decisions, handling obstacles with intelligence or obstinacy, maturing or stagnating according to their own internal motivations. Goldilocks is a beautiful example of the genre, a book that will stick with me for some time.
I want to thank author Laura Lam, Headline Publishing Group, and blog tour organizer Anne Cater for my copy of Goldilocks, given in exchange for an honest review.
Book Review: Goldilocks, Laura Lam
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Huge thanks for the blog tour support David xx