Fiction Reviews

The Rosewater Insurrection

(2019) Tade Thompson, Orbit, 8.99, pbk, 375pp, ISBN 978-0-356-51137-5


This is the second in the 'Rosewater', or 'Worlmwood' (as it is being marketed) trilogy following the scintillatingly brilliant Rosewater.  No spoiler to say that Rosewater was a highly innovative, and a fresh take on the, first contact novel.  As I said in my review of Rosewater there have been many pivotal first contact stories from Wells' early landmark War of the Worlds, Wyndham's Midwich Cuckoos, Stanislaw Lem's Solaris and Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, let alone his iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey, to modern first contact classics such as Robert Charles Wilson's Bios and Peter Watts' BlindsightRosewater joined this select cadre.

If you have not read Rosewater, then go back and read that before reading on here.

OK, so you have had your 'spoiler' warning above and so I presume that you have read Rosewater and are wondering whether The Rosewater Insurrection is a worthy successor?  The answer here is a clear 'yes'.

We have all the tropes that made Rosewater innovating including the 'telepathy' which is actually biochemical communication on genetically modified humans and the concomitant weird biotechnology of the alien at the heart of Rosewater.  We also get a neat story in that the mayor of Rosewater wants to declare independence from Nigeria and that there is a secret cabal (the Silent Ones) setting up key political players as well as the quasi-autonomous, governmental security agency S45 which we saw in the first novel.  Added into the mix is a new plant whose growth seems to eradicate the Rosewater xenosphere and a woman, Alyssa, who wakes one day at home with her family but with no memory of who she is.

Readers of Rosewater be assured that along the way we discover more about the Rosewater alien's origins and its plans: so we have good trilogy arc plot progression.  What we still don't know is what is happening with the US-of-A who are effectively hiding behind their continental black-out shield; the reader may very well suspect we might learn more in the final story as this is a distinct passing feature of both the novels to date.

Suffice to say that while second novels in a trilogy often tend to suffer as they neither have the freshness of the first nor sufficient plot development as there is no conclusion of the trilogy's final instalment -- The Rosewater Insurrection still held me enthralled with Tade Thompson's world.  I stand by every comment I made with the first novel's review especially that this novel is the most innovative first contact novel since Peter Watts' Hugo-winning Blindsight (2006).  Bring on the trilogy's final, The Rosewater Redemption.

Jonathan Cowie


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