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The Mimicking of Known Successes

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Member Reviews

The book started out a little slow and I just couldn't get into the story. As the mystery picked up though I was decently invested. The past relationship between the characters was not very fleshed out and I think that definitely hurt the overall story.
This is primarily a mystery novella and the mystery felt realistic, It was easy to follow along as the characters pieced things together and a the reader could pick up a few clues that were left throughout the story.
The world building was pretty good and I know that it is a novella, but I do wish that we got to know the characters a little better.
Overall, it is a good book, perfect for a lazy day.

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The prologue of this standalone novel is told in the past tense (see footnote 1), from the point of view of Mossa (whom, we are told in the blurb, is enigmatic), while the rest of the story is told in first person past tense by Pleity, a tenured academic at Jupiter (called Giant in the story).

Now, as a rule, I’m not a fan of this kind of switch in narrative voice, but it works very well here–not in small part because Dr Older’s writing voice is very engaging.

I am delighted that, as much detail as is given about the world, there’s a lot that is left for the reader to infer; both about the events leading to humans colonizing Jupiter (for starters, why Jupiter and not another planet–say, one not all gas?), and about Pleiti’s and Mossa’s relationship.

From the very first paragraph of the prologue there’s a rich sense of place–not Earth, not now–that only gets more absorbing with each page. (see footnote 2)

I savored the author’s use of language, from the inclusion of the occasional word in Spanish, to the dialogue. Like here, as Pleiti shares with Mossa what she knows about the missing man:

“I’ve never wanted to spend this much time analyzing him before…I think he research is vestigially important to him; that is, I think he chose his area because *he* believed in it, but by this point it’s important because he believes in it, rather than the other way around.”
(emphasis in the original, location 180, epub ARC)

While the plot takes our protagonists all over the human habitats on Jupiter, there’s a lot of time spent on the politics of academia, in a way that reminds us: wherever you put humans, you have the whole of humanity. In this case, the politics of the university and the wider politics of the human colony in Giant, both obvious and hidden, run under and through the investigation.

And of course, there’s also quite a bit of social commentary throughout (to add a classical quote: “why are men?”)

It’s immediately evident why the publisher went for the Holmes comparison (though my own brain went first to Poirot and Hastings, but that’s likely because I was introduced to them before Sherlock and Watson), but the differences in the protagonists’ thinking do not, in fact, denote one brilliant mind condescending to a mediocre one at best, but equals.

The way Pleiti interacts with Mossa, and how she thinks about her, we can conclude that Mossa is neurodivergent, while Pleiti is not (or perhaps not in the same way). Maybe this is why the pining is, is, shall we say, uneven; perhaps even a bit one-sided for a good chunk of the story. Eventually, the characters work through their issues, and am quite happy with the very promising HFN ending.

The last line is perfect.

I enjoyed the mystery thread, even though it’s not, to my mind, one the reader can fairly be expected to solve fully, even as it raises several of the thorny issues we face today. I enjoyed the worldbuilding and characterizations immensely; I mentioned on social media that I had that feeling of not wanting to stop reading even to eat, that’s how deep I was in the world.

The Mimicking of Known Successes gets 8.75 out of 10.

1 --Book two has been announced, and there's a book three in the works too! ::flails in joy::
2 --There's a podcast (Tales from the Trunk) where the author mentions the Victorian feel of the worldbuilding, which I didn't mention, but is fantastic; the atmosphere is alive in this world.

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Set in a fascinating human future where we’re living on a Jupiter-esque planet while trying to reshape the Earth and make it habitable once more, Older weaves a compelling mystery with understandable motives and enjoyable characters. The romance at the heart of the story has lovely chemistry. It’s the sapphic Sherlock and Watson of your dreams, I’m sure of it.

Despite all this, I was not grabbed by this story, nor do I think I’ll continue in the series. I will recommend it, though, as it’s a fun and quick read with a lot of intrigue and heart.

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This novella is basically Sherlock Holmes, if they were both women, it was set on Jupiter, and Watson was still in love with his ex-gf Holmes. It’s also about second chances and how to approach them. Do you try to recreate the same relationship as before or do you try something completely new? Or is there a way to find a balance between them?

Investigator Mossa is great at uncovering and analyzing often incongruous bits of information but not so good at interpersonal relationships. So when her latest victim is traced to Valdegeld University her first stop is calling on her college ex-girlfriend, Pleiti, now a Classics Scholar at the same institution. While Mossa’s the more stereotypical genius with no time for small talk or tact, Pleiti’s also got all the usual social awkwardness of the professor-type who just wants to read their books and write their papers. Drawn into the murder investigation, though, bit by bit, what initially looked like a simple suicide turns out to be something with far wider and worse consequences.

Part of the fun of this novella, I think, is not knowing exactly what being a Classics scholar means, in this context – or really knowing much about the whole concept. Suffice it to say that it’s a fascinating take on gaslamp sci-fi with lots of moody fog, a couple of libraries, and copious amounts of tea and scones. The setting, its history and how it affects the story all read as plausible to me, as well as being highly unique while simultaneously paying homage to Holmes. The mystery itself is also well-crafted. I think, though, that my only criticism is that this isn’t the type of mystery where the reader’s given enough clues to figure out what’s going on. Key bits of information are only revealed as they’re necessary, sometimes in a way that leaves Pleiti in the dark as much as the reader. Given the confines of a novella, though, I can understand why working in all the detail that goes into figuring out the mystery would be, well, not very mysterious.

And sure, the setting and the mystery itself are great, but what I really loved were the characters. Besides a quick third-person prologue, the novella is told from Pleiti’s first-person POV. From the moment Mossa turns up on her doorstep, even without being told, we know that they have history, and as the novella progresses the pining practically drenches their every interaction. But Pleiti never outright clarifies to their reader their past relationship or what broke them up or whether she still has feelings – it’s all dropped bit by bit in conversation, in the way they interact, and how Pleiti’s willing to drop everything to help Mossa. It’s second-chance romance as one of those Picasso line drawings, and I loved it so much.

Overall, I was beyond excited to realize this was the first in a planned series as it was almost everything I want in a sci-fi murder mystery. I can’t wait to settle down for the next one with some tea and scones!

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Normally I find the "x movie meets x media" to not be very accurate when I finish a book, but this genuinely was a Sherlock Holmes mystery set in space! It takes place in a future where humanity has taken refuge on Jupiter after a climate disaster. Mossa is an investigator, and Pleiti is a scholar who is working on a plan to fix the Earth. The atmosphere of the book was very rich and cozy, and I enjoyed seeing glimpses of Mossa and Pleiti's relationship. The ending of this book felt like there is going to be more installments in this series, which I look forward to.

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The Mimicking of Known Successes is a gentle, Holmesian mystery, underpinning a tender, reserved sapphic romance. Oh, and it’s set in a future in which humans have decimated Earth and resettled on Jupiter, where they live on platforms connected by a complex of train tracks. So, that’s fun. And I really loved the cozy, foggy setting of this story, with all the tea-drinking and scone-eating, rattling of trains, telegraphs, and stormy weather.

I had some trouble settling into this book, though, and at times reading it required…effort. Or, at least, more effort than it should have required. This, I’m sure, was very much a me problem. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump, and haven’t been as captivated by books that should otherwise thoroughly engage me. TMOKS had all the ingredients of a book I’d like, and has lots of accolades from other readers I trust, so I intend to revisit this novella in a few months and see if my mood changes how I feel about it.

Thanks, NetGalley and Tor, for the ARC!

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Delightful speculative fiction with a sapphic romance and a delicious mystery. Very Watson and Holmes, with kissing. This short novel brings to mind P DJeli Clark along with the Sherlock sensibilities and all the best short form genius of Philip K Dick. I certainly hope we get to see more of Giant and our intrepid Investigator.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my free copy. These opinions are my own.

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I would give this a 3.5-stars. I think this is a perfectly good book, but not quite to my personal taste. I think in terms of plot and world-building, this does a good job. I thought the world was really cool and well described enough for me to picture and understand. There definitely was no info-dumping for world-building which I know is a big pro to many readers. I think the mystery is satisfying enough for the length of the novel, although I felt the pacing was bit off in the middle. I think what took this down for me a little bit was the character development and pre-established/previous relationship between Pleiti and Mossa. I just didn't buy their relationship and I think part of that's because so much seems to be based on this relationship they had a while ago/previous to this story taking place and yearning to be back together. I just didn't get why they wanted to be back together so much. So for me, I didn't really feel connected to the characters or their romantic feelings. What I wanted was a flashback to establish their previous relationship and Mossa's point-of-view, but it obviously isn't possible to add all that into a little novella (then it becomes a novel and something different), so I think this is just a personal preference thing. Perhaps the writing style was bit distant and made me feel not connected to the characters? I can't quite put my finger on it, but something related to the characters and romantic element of this story didn't work well for me. If the premise sounds interesting to you and you like a mystery plot engine, then this could really work for you though I think! Also, I think this is accessible for people who aren't normally sci-fi readers. I don't think people going in for the romance will necessarily be satisfied though.

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If more of this novella was Mossa and Pleiti talking to each other and less very stilted and wordy narration, this would have been honestly amazing. It felt too much like Older wanted Pleiti (and Mossa as well, but in dialogue where it’s a bit less cumbersome) to just ooze intellect, so a lot of the prose is just leaden with big, unnecessary words and the requisite worldbuilding words that don’t get a definition or explanation but you kind of learn to accept as time goes on because they’re simply part of the scenery. But between those two groups, it was kind of hard to get used to the rhythm and tempo of the book.

The characters and the mystery were both awesome. I loved the complex relationship between Mossa and Pleiti that we understand right away but also unravel further as they acclimate to each other after time away.

Would I read another book in this series? Maybe. But I probably wouldn’t want to pay full price for it

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I was really excited about this book, because it has so many elements that are right up my alley!

Some things I loved:

✨ The book had a very “old British crime novel” feel to it that reminded me of a Sherlock-esque mystery.

✨ The setting was unique and I enjoyed the commentary and ethical quandaries presented through it.

✨ The relationship between the two main characters is awkward and delightful, and I loved how well they clearly knew each other’s quirks despite having been separated for a long time.

Some things I didn’t love:

✨ The language was overly erudite, in that the author used many esoteric words and phrases. I’ve got at least a fairly decent vocabulary, but I had to use context clues (and even my dictionary a few times) to figure out what was being said throughout much of the book. The formal language of the past mixed with the futuristic sci-fi setting felt a bit jarring, and it took me out of the story more than a few times.

✨ The ending felt very “tell instead of show,” and it felt a bit incongruous with the style of the rest of the book.

Overall, there were elements I did enjoy, but the premise was more exciting than the actual execution for me.

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Do you like Sherlockian British mysterious? Have you ever wanted one set in space? Than this is the book for you!

This novella is reminiscent of all the classic British mysteries, with its investigative approach and respect for a tea break. The Mimicking of Known Successes takes an interview approach O solving the disappearance of an academic.

While I enjoyed the premise of this novella, the fuddy duddy and at times over the top caricatures of English folk made it hard to connect with the characters.

It felt like at times large words were used simply to sound smarter when all it did was make me feel constantly pulled out of the world. Not to mention the jarring sensation of going from 1800's Britishisns to new sci fi words.

Overall the idea was fun, the characters were enjoyable but the execution really just wasn't there.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own

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I've seen other reviewers describe THE MIMICKING OF KNOWN SUCCESSES as "speculative cozy" and I think it's apt. Which... is unfortunate, for me, as a reader! "Cozy" is not my preferred narrative style, but I love Malka Older's work.

I think where it fell a little flat for me is that I found Jupiter so much more compelling than our Holmesian leads: Pleiti and Mossa have something interesting between them, but it's so much quieter than the world that Older builds around them. As a reader, being dumped in media res can be a little offputting, but Older has such a mind for technology and world-building that I wish I could have had a novella.... all about this alternate future-Jupiter. (which I have to say is an outlier! I tend to prefer character over place, but Older just does it So. Damn. Well.)

I don't know that I would recommend this book for readers looking for a true mystery, but I think folks looking for an atmospheric sci-fi read will enjoy a brief jaunt with Mossa and Pleiti on Jupiter.

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Sometimes, a book surprises you in the best way. This was one of those. Thanks are due to @bookriot for pointing me to it. This is speculative cozy, which I wouldn't have thought was a thing, but it totally works.

Mossa is a high-ranking investigator in a human colony on one of Jupiter's moons. She is tasked with finding out what happened to an academic who apparently stepped off a travel platform in the outer reaches of the settlement. Was it a suicide, or is there something else going on?

In the course of her investigation, the decidedly neuro-atypical Mossa needs to enlist the help of her ex, Pleiti. Pleiti is a scholar of Earth, part of the study to see if humanity can learn from the best of what it did, in order to avoid the worst, if a return to Earth is possible. She, of course, ends up as Mossa's Watson.

The writing here is beautiful. The cozy mystery structure allows for asking some big questions. Who decides what is worth keeping in an attempt to resurrect an Earth-style world? Who holds power? Mossa and Pleiti drew me in utterly. Pleiti's helpless longing for Mossa is brilliantly conveyed, and you can't help but ache with her.

5 quiet, lovely stars for this well-crafted story. It comes out March 7. Thanks to @netgalley
for the e-arc.

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This book was a delightful little read. Set in a future where humanity settled on Jupiter after earth has become inhospitable due to human actions, it follows Mossa(the Holmes analogue) an investigator and Pleiti(the Watson analogue and narrator) who is an academic researching Earth's ecology before it became inhospitable as part of a grand project to one day return to earth. The central mystery involves one of Pleiti's colleague's apparent suicide by jumping off of a remote platform into the depths of the gas giant.

I enjoyed both the characters and their careful interactions around one another, both being unsure about where they stand with each other due to their former relationship. Mossa despite sharing some similarities with Holmes, isn't quite as cold as dismissive, but rather more absorbed with her job and not very vocal about her feelings. Due to this, the resulting relationship is dependent as much on the quiet moments along with any open affection.

The mystery was interesting, though not something the readers can solve by themselves due to the lack of familiarity with the setting and characters outside of Pleiti and Mossa.

The setting is also wonderful in itself, with fascinating depictions of life in Jupiter wrapped in familiar blanket of academia. It's cozy with hints of melancholia etched into it. The setting, how it came to be, and attitudes of it's inhabitants towards it are also deeply intertwined with how the the story plays out.

All in all, a charming and quick read that anyone interested in a cozy and atmospheric mystery or science fiction will enjoy. I look forward to reading further installments in the series.

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The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older is part sci-fi eco story, part mystery, and part romance. Long after Earth's ecosystem has collapsed, humanity lives on concentric rings on the gas planet Giant, with Scholars who study Earth's past in hopes of restoring it. When a man goes missing, an Investigator and her Scholar ex work together to unravel a sinister plot.

I think this book is only somewhat successful, and that's because I spent a lot of time in the first half confused by the physical geography of Giant, which is actually crucial to the plot. I just couldn't picture it in my mind, and when details were mentioned, they distracted me from the plot.

But beyond that, I found this a fascinating view of post-Earth society, an intriguing mystery, and a light second chance romance. I also enjoyed the fact that we aren't viewing the mystery through Investigator Mossa's eyes - instead this is a first person POV from Scholar Pleiti.

I do wish the romance between Mossa and Pleiti had a bit more development. They obviously have a deep history, and I loved the hints throughout the story of Mossa's feelings and insecurities.

Rating: 3.5/5

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I loved the setting of this work. Jupiter is such an under-utilized setting in sci-fi which made the setting in this inherently a bit unique and very cool. This was a solid Holmesian mystery--the twists and turns kept me on my toes and guessing. The romance between the two main characters was also well-done and believable. Overall, a really fun setting for a well-plotted mystery--so well done and fleshed out for how short it is. I can't wait for more by this author (maybe even more in this cool world!)

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This book promised a cozy Holmesian mystery and sapphic romance set on Jupiter. Which sounds like a tall order, especially for a book this short, but it delivered on every count. The mystery had enough twists and turns to keep the characters (and reader) busy without becoming excessively convoluted, the investigators were sharp detectives possessed of distinct personal foils and an enduring soft spot for one another, and the Jupiter setting was interesting and memorable. Best of all, none of the story's three major elements - the mystery plot, the romance between the characters, or the science fictional setting - dominated the others.

As for the "cozy" descriptor - well, for a mystery novel it's supposed to mean amateur sleuthing with no on-page violence, which wasn't completely accurate. But in any other situation it means tea and scones and heated blankets on blustery days, which not only feature in the story but would make a great accompaniment to it. A great read for a rainy afternoon, or a sunny one.

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I loved this! This was a cosy-ish, sci-fi, Holmes-esque murder mystery, with a sweet revisting of the romance the two MC's shared,

As far as the mystery is concerned, there were lots of twists and unexpected moments - and I am always pleasantly surprised when there's a genuine "AHA!" moment at the end. As this is such a short read, I was genuinely taken aback by how much could be fit into so few pages. This did make the pacing feel a little odd in the middle - feeling both rapid at some points and slow at others. While this did leave a few side elements feeling as though they could have been fleshed out more, I've seen indications that this is due to be a series and feel as though that leaves plenty of potential further space for development and more exploration of this world.

Saying that, overall the world building was wonderful for such a short book. This was an imaginative take of life on a Gas Giant, which while described as hostile also managed to invoke thoughts of cosiness and familiarity. There are references to the destruction of Earth which does add a bleak undertone to some points, but this is commentary of climate change I feel is almost required in a story set on a refuge planet.

I adored, and I mean truly adored the character building of the two main characters and the exploration of their relationship. Mossa and Pleiti make an excellent team, and the development of their new relationship felt relaxed, easy and unforced.

I would recommend this to almost anyone. It covers so many different areas of interest and combines my favourite genres into one without feeling like any plot lines are being left by the wayside. If you read the description and you're interested - pick it up! You won't regret it.

4 Stars.

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Galley copy received from NetGalley, thanks for the read and I don't believe it has influenced my review.

I'd give this book 3.5, and look forward to the next book in the series - I would expect that one to grow the character more, after the great scene setting in this book.

I liked the world building, although am confused as the building methods in the gas giant atmosphere - are there metal rings going around the entire planet? How much metal would that take?

It's the coziest mystery novel set on a gas giant that I've ever read!

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The concept of this book is super unique! I loved the setting of Mars. However, I found the writing a bit off putting? Maybe it was too formal for me, so I couldn’t really connect with the characters. Overall, mixed feeling, but I would still recommend for scifi fans who like a short read! Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!

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