Dr. Ha Nguyen has been summoned to the remote archipelago of Con Dao, where there are rumors of an octopus that walks upright on land and may have taken to murdering local poachers. There, she meets Evrim, the world’s only android, so astonishingly human that they were made illegal; and a war-scarred former soldier who can extend her consciousness into a collection of AI-enabled drones. The story asks smart questions of what counts as intelligence—artificial and otherwise—and what it means to search for, and find, aliens among us. But it’s also notable for its treatment of a familiar trope: that of other-than-human intelligences demonstrating a greater penchant for humanity than your average human. It’s familiar for a reason: everywhere we look, we yearn for the best of ourselves.