The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles

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Pub Date 13 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 13 Feb 2024


Investigator Mossa and Scholar Pleiti reunite to solve a new mystery in the follow-up to the cozy space-opera detective mystery The Mimicking of Known Successes, which Hugo Award-winning author Charlie Jane Anders called “an utter triumph.”

Mossa has returned to Valdegeld on a missing person’s case, for which she’ll once again need Pleiti’s insight. Seventeen students and staff members have disappeared from Valdegeld University—yet no one has noticed. The answers to this case may lie on the moon of Io—Mossa’s home—and the history of Jupiter’s original settlements during humanity's exodus from Earth.

But Pleiti’s faith in her life’s work as a scholar of the past has grown precarious, and this new case threatens to further destabilize her dreams for humanity’s future, as well as her own.

The Investigations of Mossa and Pleiti
The Mimicking of Known Successes
The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles

The Centenal Cycle
Null States
State Tectonics

Investigator Mossa and Scholar Pleiti reunite to solve a new mystery in the follow-up to the cozy space-opera detective mystery The Mimicking of Known Successes, which Hugo Award-winning author...

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Featured Reviews

This series isn't easy to categorize--it's a sci-fi/fantasy with a touch of romance and a dollop of detective story thrown in. At times, there's almost a steampunk feeling as it takes place in the future on the planet Giant (which apparently is Jupiter as two Jovian moons are named in the book) where the citizens live on platforms connected by tracks and travel by rail cars, and use telegraph to communicate over long distances. The book is primarily told from the perspective of Pleiti, a Classical Scholar who pores through historical tomes to understand the ecosystems of Earth before humanity had to escape, who in some ways acts as Watson to Mossa. Aside from the allusion, the story never falls prey to the Holmes-Watson stereotypes, and Mossa-Pleiti are distinct characters.
I absolutely devoured this book in a day and already can't wait for another!

Thanks to Tor for access to a digital ARC on NetGalley.

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Mossa and Pleiti are back. Mossa, an Investigator on Giant (Jupiter to you and me), is looking into a student who has disappeared. Because Pleiti teaches at the university, Mossa has once again asked for her help.

There is much to love about this book. The world building, characters and plotting are all superb.

It’s a pleasure to be back on Giant. Older has created a fascinating world, but at no point does it overwhelm the storytelling. Instead, we learn more and more about the settling of Giant and its moons as the story progresses.

The relationship between Mossa and Pleiti is equally fascinating. Although they are clearly attracted to one another and in an affectionate relationship, there is always a doubt in Pleiti’s (who narrates most of the book). The relief when Mossa shows up both lovely and tender.

The central mystery of the book is very well paced. As each piece of the puzzle is solved, we’re lead into another question or set of question to be solved.

Older has created something that mixes sci-fi, romance and a cosy thriller. I’m not sure what to call it. To be honest, I don’t care what it’s called as long as I get to spend more time in this world that Older has created.

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A solid follow up to the first book in the series that expands on the world building in some interesting ways and deepens the main characters' central relationship. "The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles" finds Mossa and Pleiti dealing with the fallout from the events of book one while tackling a new mystery that takes them to the far reaches of Giant--and to one of its moons.

I didn't love this one quite as much as the first, but I would definitely still recommend it and read more of the series!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc!

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This is a fantastic follow-up to the story of The Mimicking of Known Successes. Following the same duo, Mossa has recently returned to Giant to pursue a missing persons case and enlists Pleiti, her ex-girlfriend and current love interest, to help, as most of the missing people are from the university Pleiti works at. This sequel expands on some of the already great worldbuilding from the first book, and in particular gives more insight to Pleiti's research as a Classicist (who read old Earth novels as a means of trying to recreate Earth's environs and species) which I really enjoyed. There was also a bigger focus on the romance. The book is from Pleiti's pov for the most part, and she spends a lot of time musing on the nature of her relationship with Mossa, who is a bit harder to figure out but less so here than she was in the first book. The mystery part was fairly standard and similar to how the first book played out, though it really didn't need to be anything more. This is a great series and i'd love to read more about Pleiti and Mossa's adventures.

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Sapphic scholar Pleiti and her mystery-solving girlfriend Mossa are back again to solve yet another missing persons case, and in this installment we see the story expand to Jupiter's moon Io.

The world building is my favorite part of this series, it's creative and different without being overwhelming. If you want some smaller scale sci-fi, this is for you. Novellas can be difficult to get into because they often feel too short to really sink into the story and characters, but this one succeeds in having just the right pacing and depth to the world that it feels like the perfect length for the story.

One thing I would change about this is having alternating chapters from Mossa's point of view. I find her to be very intriguing and relatable, and I would love to be directly in her mind for at least part of the story.

Another thing I would warn potential readers about is that the main character and the prose are extremely pretentious (I mean just look at the title, that's a good indicator of what to expect). That being said, I like everything else about this enough that I can ignore the over-the-top prose :)

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I always enjoy mysteries and The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles was no different.

TIoUO expands on the world of Giant much more and the influence of Earth culture is much more evident. The first book did not have as much world-building, and it was fun to see the references to our modern, 21st century culture. (Also, is that a Murderbot reference I see?)

Also, central "villain" is more involved in the TIoUO than in The Mimicking of Known Successes. I felt that like the perpetrator came out of left field in the first book, so having the perpetrator involved more and earlier made it stronger.

I also loved watching Mossa and Pleiti's relationship evolve more! It was surprisingly tender in some parts.

However, the cat slander was too much. I will not stand for it. Cats have done nothing wrong, ever. Smh...

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I like this one a lot -- it's not quite Sherlock Holmes pastiche, but it has the same vibes. Plus, the worldbuilding is great, and I'm intrigued by the characters.

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After the end of The Mimicking of Known Successes, Mossa and Pleiti discover another strange disappearance to solve in The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles. Several disappearances, actually, as students and staff are disappearing from Pleiti’s workplace, Valdegeld University. Not a lot, not enough that anyone except Mossa had noticed and anyway, surely some of the missing are just students who slept through class or dropped out, right?

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles has the same wonderful gaslamps gas giant setting, full of cozy vibes in harsh space, again with a mystery. I loved The Mimicking of Known Successes, really my only concern with the first novel is that the world was so new and different that I was still sorting out how the world worked, instead of solving the mystery. In the second novella, I understood more of the future world on Giant, so I could enjoy and engage in the mystery part more. Pleiti and the rest of the Classics department of Valdegeld are researching lost Earth ecosystems, in the hopes of someday making the destroyed planet Earth habitable again. From here, Pleiti’s mixed emotions over the end of the last novel, her future at the university, and why there might be dissidents unhappy with the pace of discovery all made sense.

I think because I was more familiar with life on Jupiter by the second novella, I was able to enjoy the setting more in this one, too. We have the same world of train-connected platforms circling Jupiter, each platform with slightly different lifestyle and production, like a series of villages, separated by swirling gases. There are interesting pieces of preserved language from old Earth, and conscious choice not to name everything, say, New Oxford. I felt like I was just wrapping myself up in this believable but very different life on future Jupiter.

There’s more about how humans came to Giant, about the generation before Pleiti and Mossa, about life on Io, and about Mossa’s own background. Ok, there were a couple unexplored hints about life on Io, and while Pleiti is patiently waiting for Mossa to explain in her own time, on her own terms, I was mentally screaming about it. CEO descendants giving tours of their former escape pods!

I liked seeing their relationship evolve, too. You could see how Mossa’s extreme logic led her to be a bit of a challenging girlfriend. At one point, Pleiti arrives to find her bags packed for an immediate surprise trip, because Mossa remembers a previous misunderstanding and doesn’t want Pleiti to feel left out or abandoned. There would definitely be challenges ahead, but I felt like the characters actually cared for each other.

Look, I need to give you all a spoiler right here. When I saw the title, The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles, I couldn’t help thinking of the third-act unnecessary breakup trope. Ugh no. I hate the miscommunication for the purpose of getting back together, and I double hate it for Mossa and Pleiti. So, I’m gonna spoil it and explain that there are many unnecessary obstacles, in life and in the mystery, but there’s no crappy forced breakup and reconciliation here.

Instead, there’s an intriguing mystery to solve, with a surprising resolution, all in the wonderful gaslamps gas giant world.

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A sequel to the delightful The Mimicking of Known Successes - similarly delightful! The worldbuilding is detailed and charming but still subtle, the mystery works (although unlike the first one this one I think needed a few more breadcrumbs), the relationship is believable and lovely. I'm very invested in Mossa and Pleiti!

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I loved The Mimicking of Known Successes so much that I started reading this follow-up on the first blustery late-fall day, excited to immerse myself in tea and scones and mystery. I loved how the steampunk tea-and-trains-and-Jupiter world of Mossa and Pleiti continues to develop in this second installment. Instead of just another mystery set on the gas giant, we get to see a different aspect of the world, illuminating its history and social structures.

The prose is one of the book's standout elements. Pleiti's formal narration gives rise to many lovely and provocative turns of phrase, including the title of the book. Her vernacular borrows many words from non-English languages, especially to describe food items, which contributes to the story's atmosphere - but readers who find translation unwieldy could bypass them without losing any plot. As an academic, Pleiti is connected to the mystery only through her partner, Mossa, and her thoughtful remove gives the story more depth.

I did find the romantic elements of this story less compelling than in the first. Pleiti spends a great deal of time wondering (in a believably but uninterestingly neurotic way) about Mossa's feelings for her, which is repetitive and just short of irritating. I would have liked to see more interaction between the couple to feed her ruminations, or fewer ruminations.

As to the mystery itself - without giving spoilers, I appreciated that it was a very different mystery than the first story's, addressing a different aspect of society, with a (mostly) different type of culprit and conclusion.

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I found this a really charming second book in the series. Our love-sick Pleiti is back, pining over Mossa the investigator. This has even more Sherlock and Watson vibes than the last one for me, and I loved the expansion of the world and gentle treatment of ivory tower suspicion of the hinterlands/provincialism. I think honestly this works better as light social commentary than actual sci fi or mystery, but I'm here for it any which way. Take me on another adventure, Malka Ann Older! I'm ready and willing. Four fun stars, with great love for the Academy scones and gorgeous wordplay (and a full quarter star for the Murderbot reference). Perhaps being a former PhD student with a deep love and knowledge of French is what makes this so adorable to me, but I really think it would be charming to a reader who isn't... me. But read the first book, first!

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With the exception of one minor self indulgent stumble at the end, this was a great sequel. The mystery was satisfying, the character and relationship growth felt real, the planet and culture was fleshed out, and there were lots of scones. Well worth a read.

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I was delighted to get to read an ARC of this book, as I had just read the first book and really enjoyed it. Like the first book, this is a mystery in a science fiction setting; the issues of where they are (Jupiter), and why (humans utterly destroyed life on Earth and there are many disagreements on what to do next, and/or how best to start it over), definitely play into the mystery, but at the heart of it, "what happened to this person who seems to be missing" is the mystery.
Mossa and Pleiti are working out their own relationship as well, what they mean to each other and who is willing to say what, but they work together well, playing to the strengths of each in researching what happened.
I do appreciate how many words I had to look up, as they turn out to be from a variety of languages; of course, not all words should be derived from English, I had never thought about it but why would they?
Who knew that the mystery/sci-fi mashup could be so appealing? Malka Older is firmly on my check-this-author-out list from now on.

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This is a cozy-up-to-a-fire book that I just loved. A mystery and a romance set on (or around) Jupiter, it's the second of a series (I need to go read the first) in which two women--who are negotiating their relationship on a very, very micro level--work together to investigate problems at a prestigious university. There's storyboarding and hot tea and warm bathrobes and cuddling and missing people and secrets all around and it's a delicious, satisfying read, and you don't need to have read the first one to understand anything.

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I had enjoyed the Mimicking of Known Successes and glad that Malka Older continued writing. It had everything that I enjoyed from the first book and was a joy to read. I enjoyed how good the romance was and that the characters worked with this romance. I’m so glad the detective elements worked in the story.

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I loved Older's previous novella in this sequence, Mimicking of Known Successes, and Unnecessary Obstacles was just as good. The general setup is lesbian Sherlock Holmes on Jupiter, with an academic devoted to studying lost Earth ecologies in the role of Watson. Pursuing intellectual questions by reading old books by a cozy fire while somebody else bakes the scones is absolutely wish-fulfilment. But Older's well aware of the layers of exploitation built into university projects, real or imaginary, and both the mystery plot and the romantic uncertainties depend on the protagonist Pleiti's growing awareness of these inequities.

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The Imposition of Unnessecary Obstacles does a phenomenal job of building on the first book in this series. There are many more little details that build the setting and act as brushstrokes drawing the steampunk world Pleiti and Mossa inhabit.

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I’m way ahead of the publication date for this one, but I couldn’t resist jumping right into The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles by the remarkable Malka Older. This is Book 2 of the Investigations of Mossa and Pleiti, my favorite detective couple since Holmes and Watson, and it’s another beautiful and charming story. As in The Mimicking of Known Successes, this short novel begins with a prologue from the point of view of Mossa, the supersleuth, that sets out the basic story.

People have been disappearing from Giant, the new home for humanity constructed on vast rings around Jupiter, and Mossa is on her way to Valdegeld, the university town where the missing persons live. It is also the home of her friend and lover Pleiti, who is a scholar at the campus. The prologue lets us know that an equally strong motive for the trip is a chance to spend time with Pleiti. The rest of the story is told in first person by Pleiti, who is always most interested in interpreting every gesture and tone of voice by Mossa to see if her brilliant friend really wants to be with her.

Their relationship is, of course, the heart of The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles, but it is skillfully interwoven with the investigation of the missing persons. Pleiti’s narrative, couched in her fairly academic style, captures the full range of her endless and endearing analysis of every detail of Mossa’s behavior as she tries to interpret whether her lover wants to stay with her or only needs her to assist in an investigation. And Mossa is equally careful about not making assumptions about Pleiti. For example, when Mossa raises the idea of Pleiti possibly helping her in this, their second investigation together, she phrases it abstractly about a policy for investigators working with people who do not have the same training. Naturally the elements of this policy, as she carefully lays them out, fit Pleiti perfectly.

Since the story unfolds as Pleiti’s narrative, it is her careful gathering of facts about the missing that we get closest to. Mossa’s method seems more intuitive, and she can find the patterns in Pleiti’s data, often keeping her conclusions to herself until she can reveal a major piece of the puzzle. Like any good mystery, the search for clues about the whereabouts of the missing persons brings out a great deal about the society and the structures that have permitted humans to live in the most hostile settings of the solar system.

I could spend hours listening to Pleiti’s worries and distractions about her relationship with Mossa. At one point, she compares it to the romances of Modern love stories – Modern in the sense of the period of Giant settlement. Was separation necessary for romance, she wonders, as it featured heavily in stories about lovers longing for each other across great distances between space stations and moons or platforms around Giant. Of course, Mossa and Pleiti are separated only by a much shorter rail journey between Valdegeld and Sembla, where Mossa now lives. She catches herself going round and round wondering if obstacles, real or imagined, were necessary for love to flourish. Perhaps that explained why she could never feel satisfied, even when they were easy together, and she was clearly happier than when they were apart? I suppose that’s the way of most relationships, that doubts persist despite all evidence to the contrary, but there is a kind of Chekovian humor in Pleiti’s reflections and worries that draws me in completely.

If there is any flaw in The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles, it’s that the story is a little too short and the mystery in this case a little less complex and dangerous than its predecessor. But I still loved it and hope to read many more investigations of Mossa and Pleiti. It’s a brilliant series.

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Malls Older has produced a fine sequel to her first short novel featuring Investigator Mossa and academic Pleiti, The Mimicking of Know. successes. I have seen that book (and by implication this one) described as an homage to Sherlock Holmes, and I suppose it is. But Olders characters feel much more fleshed out, particularly Pleiti, who has much more agency than Watson. The is a murder mystery, sure, but it is also a story of evolving love between the protagonists. More, it seems to me that the series is a slow build to a revolution of some kind; a tectonic shift in both the lives of the characters (particularly Pleiti) but also in the fabric of society of Giant, the future Jupiter colony where the story is set. I look forward to a sequel, or more than one, to see if I am correct.

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I really enjoyed the The Mimicking of Known Successes and so I was so excited to see this followup! And I wasn't let down. I appreciated the sapphic rep in the science fiction setting of Jupiter, a cozy Sherlockian mystery, and most of all the dynamic with Mossa and Pleiti. I'll be sure to tell my friends who I think this is a good fit for. Thank you for this ARC!

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I adore this series - this book has a slightly slow start, as it takes a bit to fully adjust to the unique world that Older has built, but once I got back in the mode, I couldn't stop smiling. I love both characters, I love Malka Older's writing - she is so sharp and smart and FUNNY, and I love the complicated world-building and politics. An autobuy series.

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In this sequel to "The Mimicking of Known Successes," investigator Mossa and her scholar girlfriend/assistant/friend (their relationship is a bit nebulous) Pleiti are once again attempting to solve a mystery on Giant (AKA Jupiter). This time, it's a student at Pleiti's university who has gone missing, and Mossa's initial inquiries reveal that he's not alone in going AWOL from the university.

These books almost feel like Sherlock Holmes stories set in space, and I absolutely love it. Pleiti and Mossa's relationship is fantastic, the mysteries and investigations are solid, and the sly nods to current SFF fiction is fantastic. I absolutely hope that Older keeps writing these books.

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I love these books. They are so cute, and so very cozy.

For those who have not yet read them, the *Mossa & Pleiti* books are a series of Sherlock Holmes-reimaginings by Malka Ann Older. The first book, *The Mimicking of Known Successes*, came out in March. The second book, *The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles*, comes out February 14th. (Valentine’s Day, appropriately).

These books are set on orbital platforms in the upper reaches of the atmosphere of “Giant” (better known to us as Jupiter), where humanity resettled after we wrecked the Earth. Mossa is an Investigator, people tasked with investigating things like murders and disappearances. Pleiti is a professor of Classics (which, in this time and place, refers to anything from before humanity left Earth) working towards repairing Earth’s ecosystem. They were a couple as college students, fell apart, and reconnect in the first book when a case of Mossa’s takes her to Pleiti’s university.

For those who like cozy mysteries, these are just the very *coziest*. Suspects are discussed over steaming cups of tea by crackling fires. Progress towards the solution is steady and satisfying. In the first book, we spent a fair bit of time in the head of our Sherlock analogue, Mossa; in the sequel, we are nearly entirely inside the head of Pleiti, our Watson.

And much as I enjoy the mystery, the real star here is the relationship between the two. It rekindled in the first book; in this book, they’re redefining it as they come to understand each other as adults instead of hormone-addled college students. It’s a pure delight.

Mossa, it should be noted, is certainly written as neuroatypical, and as far as my neurotypical self can judge, is very well done.

Comes out February 14, 2024. Have a blanket and hot beverage of your choice on standby.

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Anyone who enjoyed the hazy yet chilly charms of Older's first book in this series, "Mimicking of Known Successes", will be sure to enjoy its follow up, "The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles". It follows Mossa and Pleiti, Sherlock and Watson stand-ins respectively, as they investigate the disappearances of over two dozen people from Giant, the enormous and inhospitable gas planet they live on after Earth's apocalypse. It's the exact kind of atmospheric cozy mystery made for curling up by the fire with a hot cup of tea: prim, evocative, and cerebral. "Imposition" is truly a sequel to "Mimicking", you'll need to read the first to grasp the emotional scope happening here. Pleiti is in love with Mossa and having a lot of feelings about it. Mossa is sending some mixed signals. And this emotional landmine is centered around their investigation, this notion of the romanticization of pain. It works really well thematically... even if sometimes I did want to give Pleiti a shake.

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If sapphic detectives sound like your cup of tea, I'd recommend checking out The series The Investigations of Mossa and Pleiti by Malka Older! I just finished an eARC of the second book, The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles (thank you @tordotcompub!). The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles comes out in February 2024!

While I didn't find the mystery in this second installment quite as exciting as the first, I adored the continued development of Mossa and Pleiti's relationship and the world building! I'll definitely be continuing the series just because I love the unique scifi world building and main characters so much.

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