Genesis, Cult Followings, and Poison Planets: Reading THE EXPERT SYSTEM’S BROTHER

The Chit Chat: Hey, y’all! Welcome back to another episode of the Raccoon Awards, where I raise a megaphone to my lips and screech feedback about any and all books I love. Today we’re talking about THE EXPERT SYSTEM’S BROTHER by Adrian Tchaikovsky, so let’s rock and roll.

The Synopsis: So, once upon a time, Handry was living his chill life, right, in this happy little village under the shadow of a gigantic tree that basically oversees all the happy humans living their happy lives and making sure that they all stay happy and safe and cozy, including but not limited to controlling the bugs flying around and turning into actual parasites in select people and basically controlling them. We’re talking a utopia with a few “computers but no one calls them computers” quirks.

So then, the villagers decide to cast this dude Sephr out (these aren’t spoilers, this is ch 1) and basically, the weird cauldron potions get onto Handry and wham, bam, thank you ma’am, now he’s an exile. But this is not just like, you know, a “he’s Other, don’t talk to him” exile. People legit forget he’s there when he’s standing right there. The super deadly forest animals won’t go near him. The fleas and whatever leave him alone. Every time he tries to eat, it poisons his body a little more.

Something weird is going on, and Handry gets to figure it all out.

Also there might be a cult or two and maybe there is or isn’t space travel but there’s definitely some cool hidden history moments–I would love to wax poetic about the full plot but I don’t want to spoil it, suffice it to say you will be flipping these pages like burgers at dinner rush cuz you gotta know what’s happening next.

The Hot Takes: What I really love about THE EXPERT SYSTEM’S BROTHER is that it hits hard on a bunch of biblical topics without getting weird, backwards, or Jesus-y about it. Specifically, this book quite openly discusses what the Mark of Cain could be and why it would be needed, but instead of the usual overtones of racism associated with it, this is a whole new spin that has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with populating a planet that you might not be a native of. It also has some savior characters, but it doesn’t go for that whole ‘retelling of Easter’ aspect, which I appreciate.

Beyond the references, though, this book is amazing – and even if secularized Bible mythos isn’t for you, you can 100% still enjoy this book. I sincerely don’t know how Tchaikovsky built such a complex world and fleshed it out so vividly in 167 pages, especially considering there was a plot going on, and characters to develop, etc. 167 pages is not a lot of room, but this world is just jaw-droppingly intricate.

It’s also fast-paced, full of mystery and intrigue, and leaves the reader with something to ponder on every page. I went into this thinking it’d be half-way decent, and I was blown out of the damn water on this read.

The Misc: I’m literally obsessed with this cover. It is amazingly intricate and detailed.

I’m also very curious for book two, because while it says that there’s work to be done, this felt like a complete story on its own.

Does it get a star? Hell yeah! The Raccoon Awards presents a starred review to THE EXPERT SYSTEM’S BROTHER.

Can I buy it? Yes, you can! Friendly reminder that I am a bookseller at Copperfish Books, so while you can purchase this book anywhere you so desire, I think it’d be cool if you bought it here.

But wait, there’s more! The sequel to this stunning novella – THE EXPERT SYSTEM’S CHAMPION – will be hitting shelves in January. You can pre-order it now (click here), and read my early review of it, which is coming soon.

5 thoughts on “Genesis, Cult Followings, and Poison Planets: Reading THE EXPERT SYSTEM’S BROTHER

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