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Review | These books prove it’s easy to fall in love with super competent heroes

Ray Nayler’s “The Mountain in the Sea” delved into octopus consciousness with terrific results, but “The Tusks of Extinction,” a novella, is even better, with fewer unruly subplots. In “Tusks,” scientists have brought back long-extinct mammoths, which need guidance — so they put the mind of a long-dead elephant expert, Damira, into a mammoth’s body, so she can become their matriarch. But Damira soon finds herself in a familiar situation, caught in a clash with ruthless poachers.

Nayler excels at writing about ecosystems, nonhuman communities and the dilemmas of conservation. “Tusks” also includes a sharp focus on toxic masculinity and the sort of power trip that would drive a person into an extreme environment to slaughter a beautiful, irreplaceable creature. The result is both breathtaking and heartbreaking.

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