Gaslamps Gas Giant in "The Mimicking of Known Successes"

The Fiction Addiction

The Mimicking of Known Successes, by Malka Older, was the kind of book where I wanted to read faster to discover the mystery (and Pleiti and Mossa's relationship mystery), but I also wanted to read more slowly to stay longer on future Jupiter.

When a man disappears off a remote train platform, Investigator Mossa is assigned to see whether he fell or was pushed into the swirling gases below. It's a mysterious, not-gory death (my favorite kind!) because we never see any guts, the characters all know that a human body couldn't possibly survive the atmosphere and storms of Jupiter. Trains are the only method of transit between platforms, and platforms are the only places that can support life on Jupiter, so he couldn't have wandered off.

I liked this from the start -- a dramatic, not-gristly hook, and an intriguing character investigating that hook. We rarely get to see women being single-minded, dedicated geniuses in their work, and a bit socially awkward outside. There are 10,000 Sherlock Holmes reinventions where a man gets to be the antisocial genius, but I rarely read about a woman single-mindedly solving a mystery.

The Mimicking of Known SuccessesPhoto by(Cover art from the publisher)

There was one small issue for me, which is that so much of the book is worldbuilding, it was impossible to guess or predict the mystery for me. There was no way to guess ahead because I was discovering the rules of life on Giant. It was OK, because I loved discovering the Jupiter outpost, I just also wanted to understand the mystery earlier. Basically, Pleiti would notice Mossa's reaction to something or someone, and I'd file that away, a-ha! a clue! There's something important about that! but I couldn't put it together because I was still working out how the world worked for most of the novel.

Without giving spoilers about the plot or the ending, there are heavy questions about what we owe to each other. What do we owe to other people, when we think they're impossibly wrong?  How can humans coexist in shared spaces, whether that's a society or a relationship? It works with the characters we've met, though, and adds additional depth, especially to the slightly-robotic Mossa. Some  heavy questions linger in this delightful scifi escapism.

I recently read The Siren, and blogged about how it had so many elements I knew I'd like. Some of that could be true for how I went into The Mimicking of Known Successes, too. I knew this book would be a not-gross murder mystery, set on Jupiter, with developed, complex women. All things I expected to like reading about! I just didn't know that I'd like a gaslamp gas giant mystery, because I has no idea it existed. 

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