Review copy provided by Tor.
Also, Rick was one of the very first people I met in this genre, since he is the administrator of the Dell (Asimov) Award for Undergrads. The introductory acknowledgments to Alien Morning show you the kind of person Rick is in this community: he not only thanks people, he thanks them meticulously and specifically. He’s warm and considerate and always there to make sure other people get credit.
…which is why I was relieved that I liked his book, because the people you like and the books you like don’t always go together. Whew.
Alien Morning is a first contact story that’s also a near-future speculation about media, tech, and human relationships. Its protagonist, Peter Holman, is on the cutting edge of a new kind of journalism/social media, sweepcasting, which lets people share his sensory experiences. He’s walking on the beach near his Florida home when mysterious lights appear in the sky, and gradually he becomes one of the first humans to figure out even a piece of what’s going on.
The S’huddonai visitors appear to be kind and friendly at first, even slightly comical, but their tech and personal abilities are beyond what humans know how to manage–and they are not entirely forthcoming about who is doing what to whom and why. The S’huddonai politics clash pretty quickly with the politics of Peter’s own dysfunctional family. If you want the galactic brought in to the personal scale, this is a book that does that on every page. It’s setting up for the rest of a trilogy, so there are events in motion that aren’t resolved in this volume–but the others appear to be coming soon.
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