Humanity has long prophesied the future using details about the present. In a world where technological advancement has been focused on communications and social engagement, what can we surmise about future advancements? Alechia Dow, author of The Kindred, has dialed into our current obsession with communications by featuring interstellar telepathic communication as the basis for the pocket universe featured in the novel. Its main characters—Joy Abara and Felix Hamdi—occupy and find themselves on the run from empire, as innocent scapegoats to political intrigue.
The Monchuri system is quite like the science fiction universes you’ve likely encountered before—an empire that has taken extreme measures to ensure a hierarchically defined peace—while having achieved this in a very unconventional method. Decades before the opening of The Kindred, the monarchy in power—which Felix Hamdi is in line for—squashed the rebellion of those they had oppressed for centuries by pairing people across income, social class, and planet through telepathic communication. Pairs grow up interacting with their partner speaking and engaging with them their whole lives. So far, this method has kept the rich aware of the plight of those they subject to inhumane conditions while also making the formerly rebellious nations have an innate sense of surveillance. While these pairings can occasionally achieve mutual benefits, the class structure is rigidly enforced, which makes Felix’s pairing with Joy—a teenager from the rebel planet—so strange. Despite all of the reasons why their link to each other should have caused them to suspect each other or those in their company, Felix and Joy find themselves attracted to each other but are kept from ever meeting the other. Until their wish to meet comes at the most unfortunate of circumstances: court intrigue places Felix and Joy in the worst possible places at the worst time. Heeding the warnings that they receive just in the nick of time, Felix smuggles Joy off of her planet and they crash land their highly advanced spacecraft into Earth. As the story continues, this star-crossed duo must clear their names, avoid becoming further ensnared in the court intrigue that made them fugitives, and survive on a planet that they never knew existed.
As much a plot-driven science fiction novel as it is a romance, in The Kindred, Dow presents a world of possibilities stymied by deception and greed that also shines a spotlight on the comradery of humanity. Readers are enthralled by the love that Joy and Felix share as much as they are by the pair’s decision-making and partnership building. Though we don’t see all of the intricacies of the Monchuri system, we do see the advancements and handling of fine technologies that showcase the talents each character possesses. The differences in class and treatment of these characters by this society are not only used as commentary on how society works but also an examination of who gets left behind in science fiction narratives developed by non-BIPOC writers. In short, The Kindred is the exact novel to read if you are looking for representation in science fiction properties with the symbolism of balance and justice without whitewashing real world plights.