Genre: Science Fiction — First Contact
Series: S’hudonni #1
Publisher: Tor Books (November 8, 2016)
Length: 304 pages
My Rating: 3 stars
First contact stories are a staple of science fiction. Most of them seem to fall into the mold of alien invasion narrative, but, thankfully, Rick Wilber has dreamed up something a little different with Alien Morning.
It is 2030. Peter Holman was a minor league basketball player until he tore his knee up. Now, he is a futuristic “Sweeper’ who uses advanced technology to allow his followers to not only see and hear him, but also experience everything he feels as well. Sounds great – except this is Peter we are talking about. A guy who has lots of issues: family issues, relationship issues, and life issues. All of them unresolved and dragging him down.
For some unknown reason, when the alien S’hudonni decide to make contact with earth, Holman becomes their spokesperson. His audience exactly the kind of humans the aliens wish to espouse their plans to. For his part, Peter cares less about the aliens themselves or their motives and more about growing his audience and increasing his income.
Naturally, things never stay simple when aliens show up. And, quickly, a difference in opinion about what should happen to earth arises between the two S’hudonni representatives: Twoclick and Whistle. One brother wishing to keep things peaceful, while the other does everything he can to upset every country on the planet. Holman stuck right in the middle of a sticky situation.
Other than the cool Sweeper technology, what I really enjoyed about Alien Morning was the main character himself. Sure, he has problems. No, he doesn’t exhibit my personal morals and beliefs. But, he is relatable and likable. His many flaws clearly shading him as an ordinary guy, one who is definitely not a super hero but someone who is out of his depths and trying to do the best he can in a situation he is not prepared to handle. And that made him interesting.
The only issue I had with this novel was the time shifts. There are many, many of these. The author jumping from the alien first contact story to the world of professional sports to family issues before diving into the future of interactive entertainment. All of them were interesting, but the shift from one aspect, one time period, to another quite jarring at times.
Alien Morning was definitely a different type of first contact story. In most ways, it was better. The focus less on an alien invasion scenario (which we have all seen and read far too many times by this point) and more on the characters and their problems. Peter Holman a flawed, naive narrator, who is quite ordinary yet does a great job of exploring both the jarring impact of alien contact on our modern civilization, as well as taking a look at the future of our entertainment technology. Certainly, the book is more of a stage setter for the remaining installments of the series, since nothing gets firmly resolved this time out, but it does its job very well, providing lots of intriguing possibilities going forward.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.