The age-old question about alien existence and human contact is explored in a new way in this collection of six novellas, previously anthologized in Analog magazine.
When disillusioned aerospace engineer Adrian Mast buys a book at a remainder sale, the last things he expects to find in its appendix are alien spacecraft designs. With the help of the bookstore owner, Adrian tracks down the author–only to find him in a mental institution anguishing over the intentions of the aliens who sent the designs to him. By bluffing a bureaucrat intent on thwarting their progress, the two friends continue their quest for the stars and go ahead with the spacecraft designs.
Having successfully launched their ship 15 years later, the questions that remain are “What were the intentions of the aliens?” and “Is mankind ready to face what’s out there?”
***** *** *******
Yeah, this was okay, actually quite a cool take on the alien first contact scenario where technical plans for some alien technology are discovered within an obscure UFO book. Some enlightened folk see these plans for what they really are and set about finding out the source of said plans and implementing them.
Each phase of the story is told in six novella length parts which were originally published individually. This is a format that I like and thought that it works well for this story which takes place over a number of years. The story itself is an easy read, especially the first few parts, but later parts are a little more involved and require more brain involvement by the reader. Especially when our space travelers enter some sort of inter-dimensional wormhole thing where time and space work a little differently. I thought that bit was great.
Book geeks will appreciate one character’s frequent references to well-known books and movies throughout the story. It kind of reminded me of…well…me, because I’m told that I often do this exact same thing a number of times during the course of the day.
In a nutshell this is an enjoyable but kind of plain hard sci-fi story that flows well and is therefore an effortless read, which is probably to be expected from an author of such caliber. It’s on the shorter end of the scale so I’d recommend it as a gap filler read in between bigger projects.
3/5 for concept
4/5 for delivery
3/5 for entertainment
= 3.3 out of 5