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The Mimicking of Known Successes

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars

A little understated gem of a story, set in the future after we have destroyed Earth and everyone has moved to another planet, living tenuously and conducting research into re-populating plant and animal life.

But -- it is a mystery. It features Investigator Mossa and her college ex-girlfriend Pleiti who is still in academia doing research. They are both odd ducks -- not blessed with "normal" social skills and both a bit prickly in their own way. They spend most of the story being very careful around each other while investigating the strange death of a man at a railway station.

I enjoyed the quirky  nature of the narrative and the characters. I did balk a little at the very end when the romantic situation gets resolved with one of the characters basically reneging on all the issues that split them up. But I would read another and this is definitely a unique story. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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This slim sci-fi, murder mystery, romance and climate apocalypse novella takes place on Jupiter, where survivors of Earth’s climate collapse have fled to survive and regroup. Jupiter proves to have a toxic gas surface with ripping winds and smog, and people have built an elaborate platform and railway system to live suspended above the surface. The surviving intellectuals have created a university and dedicated themselves to figuring out how best to re-seed Earth’s prior functioning biosystem to make it habitable again, having taken with them from the Earth seeds and DNA of all lost plants and animals. 

One of the scholars specializing in “classics” of the lost ecosystem, gets summoned out to her ex-girlfriend when a scholar colleague disappears off a remote station.  Fearing he may have suicidally thrown himself off the rails, Mossa, the ex-girlfriend who’s now an accomplished investigator, goes on an intense hunt to figure out what exactly happened both to the missing colleague as well as to their prior romance.  

So hoping for future investigations by Mossa! 

Thanks to MacMillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for an advanced reader’s copy.
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Malka Older treats readers of The Mimicking of Known Successes with an upbeat and exciting novella length mystery. Pleiti and Mossa, a scholar and investigator respectively, live on Jupiter, known by its residents as Giant. A zoological theft and a remote disappearance spur the two old friends on a whirlwind quest for answers. 

I enjoyed getting to know Pleiti and Mossa  and the world of Giant. Older doesn't give away too many details of the world nor their relationship at the beginning; we are exposed to their lives and life in general on a gas giant slowly. I loved the premise of how humans would live on Jupiter: rings and orbiting platforms and free rail cars connecting cities and farms and factories. I found it easy to picture the world and as things unfolded my mental image became richer and more in depth with the information on weather patterns, invasive pests, and the guy on the street corner warning of the impending apocalypse. Older doesn't posit that life on another planet would be the same as it is on Earth, but she evokes and represents humanity in a way that feels honest. 

My only complaint about this story is that it moved too quickly at times. Early on, Pleiti and Mossa make plans for a meal at a restaurant called the Slow Burn; I found myself wanting the narrative to burn more slowly too. They made it to their meal with only slight delays, just as I made it to the end of the story in what I felt was too soon. I especially felt as though the final few chapters after the main mystery is wrapped up to be a bit rushed through. I understand that in a novella, authors must pick where to expand and what to condense, so my hope is that future stories from Older get the treatment of a full length novel, as she has the ability to write compelling stories in unique settings with characters you want to root for and I simply want more spend more time with them!

[4.5/5 rounded up!]

Thank you to Tor Publishing Group and Netgalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review!
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In a dystopian future, a man goes missing from a remote platform of the human colony on Jupiter.  Inspector Mossa--brilliant but anti-social--is called to investigate, and the trail leads her back to her past.  Her past at university and with her former girlfriend, Pleiti.  When the two of them start to pull on the thread they are following, several more fall out...and lead to a conspiracy bigger than they had imagined.  This appears to be the first in a series, and I can't wait to read the next one!

I loved it!  It really got me outside my comfort zone in an unusual way, but I ended up being happy that it did.  I don't tend toward dystopian fiction, but as this was a mystery I thought I'd give it a try.  I was definitely a bit lost at first, which I've come to expect when reading science fiction and entering a whole new universe; one has to catch up and learn a whole new reality as the story unspools.  I also stumbled quite a bit over the words mixed in from other languages, which I had to look up in a translator.  Some details were totally relatable, such as the fact that cats and cockroaches survived earth's destruction on their own.  The dialogue seems to be a bit stilted too, but I came to believe that was part of this dystopian future and the social awkwardness of the two protagonists--it fit the book, somehow.  And the protagonists really grew on me.  Pleiti is relatable and idealistic, and Mossa is colder, but both are shy and introverted.  The mystery captured me and kept me reading until the very end.
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Even though this was a shorter read, it felt like one of my biggest hurdles this year. I just found it to be very dense and uninviting. I tried to chalk up the way the characters spoke as some scifi/futuristic speak (like slang) but it just felt overly complicated for no reason. I also didn't get a sense that the characters had any connection to each other and it didn't get much better as it continued. A miss for me.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read this book.

I was really excited for this one, but it just didn’t work for me unfortunately. The dialogue felt stilted and the entire tone of the book felt stale and hollow. There was no heart, I felt nothing for the characters, and I wasn’t engaged by the plot.
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A mystery that kept me guessing, a sort of Sherlock and Watson romance, and an inventive and thought provoking setting.
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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Tor Publishing Group for an advance copy of a mystery set on Jupiter where two people, once together, now apart, team up to determine what happened to a missing scholar.

My recent literature fixation has been mysteries set in far distant climes, where the food, the scenery, the history and the culture is just as important as the mystery. I like to few the familiar through unfamiliar eyes, to see what is important, how people think, and how they come to decisions on guilt, innocence and maybe just letting it go. Maybe I feel that I am learning as I am being entertained, but the different scenes, the people, the food especially the food, never ceases to keep my flipping pages and being enthralled. The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older is a mystery set in a very far away place, Jupiter, way in the future, in a time when humans fled their dying Earth, setting up platforms in the sky and always thinking of coming back to Earth. 

A man steps out of a railcar on a far platform, is seen by a publican, and disappears, not into thin air but possibly the center of Jupiter. Investigator Mossa assigned to the case thinks the case is far more than a simple suicide or disappearance, especially when Mossa finds that the person was a Scholar at the university in Valdegeld. Mossa approaches an old flame Pleiti who worked in the same part of the University, studying the ways that the human colonists could one day return home to Earth. Together they begin to investigate what the scholar was up to, and why someone is trying to keep the investigation from going anywhere. And maybe rekindle a flame once thought dead between them.

A different kind of gaslight mystery. This time the gas is all around them from the planet, causing storms, fog, cold and all sorts of atmospheres that a Victorian detective would feel comfortable in. This is very much a Holmes pastiche, with a lot of science, and a bit of romance. The book is short but packs a lot of world building and ideas. The mystery is ok, the reasons get a bit murky, but the story and the setting make up for a lot of that. The two leads are good, Mossa remains a lot more of a mystery, and her motives for returning to Pleiti might need more of an explanation, but since this is the first book in the series, well there is time. There is a quick switch in narration in the beginning which might be a little confusing, but the story sticks together well, and does hold up, and makes one intrigued for more. A very promising start for what seems like a fun different kind of mystery series, one on a world I would like to know more about. 

Fans of mystery and especially international mysteries will enjoy this, along with science fiction fans. Also the representation is the big point between the two characters, and it is handled well, and one can't help but root for them. This is my first book by Malka Older, but I would like to read more, especially in this series.
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Thank you to Macmillan–Tor/Forge for this early Netgalley copy of A Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older.

Mossa is an Investigator on Jupiter, which, following the peril of Earth, humanity has long-since colonized. When a man connected to her old university goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Mossa enlists the help of her scholar ex-girlfriend, Pleiti, to solve the case.

This is one of those books that—in order for the prose to flow naturally—should be read in a noir-style mid-Atlantic accent. And yet, try as I might, I still had no idea what was going on for most of the book’s first half.

Thankfully, though, I did catch on eventually.

The romantic subplot in this book appealed to me greatly. I love a good amount of yearning, of pining, of tentative touches, and this book supplied these and more. Mossa and Pleiti’s (friends-to-lovers-to-strangers-to-friends-to-lovers, if you will) chemistry is palpable, and it was hard for me not to root for them, both in the investigation and in their relationship.

All at once a Sherlock and Watson-style romance and a commentary on the very possible effects of climate change, A Mimicking of Known Successes is a delightful little novella that really captured me in the second half. 

CW: suicide mention.

☆ ☆ ☆ – GOOD
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What a neat little story.  An old school mystery (Sherlock and Agatha feels), with a chance of rekindling an old flame – and oh – it takes place on Jupiter!  Literally, out of this world (Sorry for the dad jokes).

Here, you have the two main characters serving as the reincarnation of Holmes and Watson as Mossa and Pleiti --- two, very socially awkward women.  The (second chance) romance itself is soft and subtle.  I found it rather sweet.  Most of their communication happens without a single word being said, but rather based on actions and how well they know each other.  This story made me think about how our reactions and responses to things change as we grow older, and how because of that, so will how you view actions within relationships.  What once may have been dealbreaker before, you might actually have a better understanding for now.

The main focus of the story is the captivating mystery.  There’s a lot of running around and bouncing ideas off of each other.  Truly fascinating world building in such a short time frame.  You can knock this story out in an afternoon curled up on the couch with a pot of tea beside you.  Ideas of Earth is still lingering in the background, and of what we left behind, but pointing towards the future and what we can create for ourselves.

I hope to meet Mossa and Pleiti again.


Thank you to NetGalley and Tor for sharing this ARC with me in exchange for an honest review.
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The Mimicking of Known Successes (Mossa & Pleiti #1) by Malka Ann Older has a lot of potential, but it didn't quite manage to live up to it for me. It's still a solid sci-fi story with great world-building, but the characters are where I struggled. I felt a few more steps removed from them than I would have preferred. While the world-building shines, the character development is a bit too opaque for my tastes.
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What a delight of a novella.  It was throughly enjoyable how the author would spread tiny tidbits of backstory about how humanity came to live in Jupiter,  and it's future goals, versus large infodumps. The mystery was good,  and the suspect's motivation was wholly unique to the story's setting.
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The perfect mix of gaslamp Murder mystery and innovative sci-fi! The world building was absolutely the star of this show in this novella, amazingly precise and well developed in such a short book. The tone of the writing was very congruent with the setting and I quite enjoyed the Holmes/Watson dynamic of Mossa and Pleiti with the added complexity of a former romantic relationship between the two! I wish this had been a full length book to delve more into character backstories as there wasn’t much character development as expected in a novella and I really wanted it! I wasn’t super gripped by the murder mystery but appreciated it as a device to explore the larger themes of the story! Would definitely read a next book if this was a series!
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The Mimicking of Known Successes was about as far from what I was expecting as it could be. It was marketed as cozy and romantic. This was not that. This was not a cozy book featuring academia like Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries. It read like a book I'd read in AP Lit, which isn't inherently bad, but it definitely made reading this a lot more draining.

I will admit that this one challenged me, which was a nice experience. The vocab was so different than most books, I was constantly googling the definition of words. The diction definitely helped build the very foreign atmosphere, which was both a positive and a negative.

That was the other thing this did so well: the atmosphere. While it wasn't cozy, it definitely felt very atmospheric and all-consuming. I felt like a part of the world. The scientific discussions of Earth and the attempts to rebuild it were interesting, and I almost wish they could've been explored on a deeper level.

The main reason this is three stars instead of four is because I feel nothing towards it. The entire thing was interesting, but that was it. The characters were bleh and unremarkable. The romance was stilted and although it had a few cute moments, as a whole, it was very forgettable. Granted, that's a pretty good description of the whole book - forgettable.

Thanks to Turn the Page Tours for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
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This novella is a sapphic murder mystery set on Jupiter that totally gave me steampunk vibes. Unfortunately, I felt that the tone was dry and I really had a hard time staying engaged with the two main characters. It lacked depth in regards to understanding the history between the two mcs. I feel that quite honestly this would’ve been better as a full length novel filled with a solid plot, history of characters and a bit more expansion on the world building.
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I don't really have any strong feelings about this book. The writing was ok, but the dialogue seemed awkward. I didn't care about the plot or romance.
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The Mimicking of Known Success is a fun detective novella with themes of environmentalism in a world where humanity has already destroyed earth. Set on man-made structures orbiting a giant gas planet known as Giant, open with our main character and detective Mossa, who’s called in after a man has disappeared, possibly having jumped off a remote platform to his death. From here, we become embroiled in a conspiracy of the academics of new, attempting to learn what they can about long-gone planet in the slimmest hopes of restoring humanity to how they once lived. Along the way we meet Pleiti, current Scholar at the Valdegrad academy and former schoolmate and lover of Mossa’s. I enjoyed the dynamic between Mossa and Pleiti, somewhat akin to a Holmes and Watson but with more warmth and more back and forth on the knowledge transfer. The writing is written in a way that almost attempts to mimic Victorian-speech, albeit a little more accessible to the modern reader. It was a little odd at first, in pairing with the sci-fi world but I was quickly charmed by it. While I liked the story overall, some pretty significant events occur toward the end that the characters leading up to it acknowledge quite strongly, but seem to be okay to just let be in the aftermath, which felt odd given the stakes. Overall. I rate this book a 4/5.

Review will go live on my blog 10 Feb 2023
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This was an interesting novella that felt to me like the introduction to a longer series/story concerning these characters. I really enjoyed the interplay between Mossa and Pleiti and thought that they were both well drawn. I thought that the author did a really good job of giving us glimpses of their joint backstory, making their behaviours in the present day understandable and convincing. I also thought that the world building was really good and the setting of a human-inhabited Jupiter was fascinating. My main issue comes with the plot itself, which I felt was a bit lackluster when compared to the other elements of the story. It felt almost like a contrivance to bring the characters together rather than a key element of the narrative. With that being said, I would definitely read more from this world and these characters, hopefully with a stronger plot element.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Tordotcom for this advance copy. 

The cover of this one definitely drew me in, but I found the premise to be interesting and I was definitely hooked early on. The book opens with Mossa, an Investigator, looking into a strange disappearance. This search brings her back into contact with her old flame, Pleiti, who helps her to investigate. I love a good mystery, and that’s what kept me going through this quick read!

I really enjoyed the mystery, setting, characters, and the vibe, but the writing was difficult to follow at some points. Every so often there would be a sentence that seemed to leap multiple plot points ahead, and it was often confusing and prompted me to reread sentences quite a few times. I loved the way that different languages were woven in, but the overall flow of the novel was stilted at times and did not have a steady flow. 

This was a pretty short read, but things got resolved quite cleanly and I did enjoy it quite a bit! I’ve had ups and downs with sci-fi, but this cozier take with an interesting mystery worked for me. For me, this is overall 3.5⭐️, rounded up to 4 everywhere except for StoryGraph.
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The worldbuilding was interesting and unique—I could definitely read a full length novel set in this world. The characters were fine. I didn't feel particularly attached to either. of them. i enjoyed the hints toward their previous relationship, but I didn't completely buy that either of them had changed enough to make a relationship work in the present. My favorite thing about mystery novels is trying to work out what happened and who committed the crime. That was basically impossible in this one, at least for me, as I didn't know enough about the world to figure out what was really going on. That was disappointing but it was still an enjoyable read.
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