THE SKILL OF OUR HANDS
If Brust and White’s first installment in this series serves to indicate the myriad possibilities of the Incrementalists, then The Skill of Our Hands shows a commendable willingness to not take just the most obvious paths, right from the initial decision to take our original narrator out of the action in as decisive a manner as possible. This volume walks the tricky line of keeping enough continuity that readers who loved the characters and setting of The Incrementalists will find a lot to enjoy here, while still doing justice to the radical possibilities of the group and their world. The result is something that’s both boldly thought-provoking and warmly comfortable; it’s exceedingly fun just to hang out with these characters, but the novel always keeps them on their toes.
Living (mostly) quietly among us, the Incrementalists have existed for thousands of years, using their ability to live from body to body with access to all of their memories and the history of humankind, as well as a centuries-honed knack for subtly altering others’ decisions, to slowly but surely make the world a better place. Normally, there’s time for debate on what qualifies as better, or just how incremental to be, but now Phil, the member whose personality has stayed stable for longer than anyone else’s, has been shot dead while fighting against police militarization and anti-immigration repression in Arizona, and before they can find him a new body, they’ll have to figure out just who killed him, and untangle all the different plans that are converging on this moment in history. (TOR, Jan., 352 pp., $25.99)