Series: A New World
Publisher: NineStar Press
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Publication Date: January 21, 2019
Length: 71,800 words
Reviewed by Michael
A little blue world, the third planet from the sun. It’s home to seven billion people—with all manner of faiths, beliefs, and customs, divided by bigotry and misunderstanding—who will soon be told they are not alone in the universe. Anyone watching from the outside would pass by this fractured and tumultuous world, unless they had no other choice. Todd Landon is one of these people, living and working in a section of the world called the United States of America. His life is similar to those around him: home, family, work, friends, and a husband.
On the cusp of the greatest announcement humankind has ever witnessed, Todd’s personal world is thrown into turmoil when his estranged brother shows up on his front porch with news of ships heading for Earth’s orbit. The ships are holding the Nentraee, a humanoid race who have come to Earth in need of help after fleeing the destruction of their homeworld. How will one man bridge the gap for both the Humans and Nentraee, amongst mistrust, terrorist attacks, and personal loss? Will this be the start of a new age of man or will bigotry and miscommunication bring this small world to its knees and final end?
Science Fiction is littered with First Contact/Alien Invasion stories. We seem fascinated, almost obsessed with the idea that, not only are we not alone in the vastness of the universe, but for some reason, out of all of the planets in the cosmos, whoever is out there has a vested interest in our planet.
What separates good sci-fi from bad sci-fi is the attention to details. You can have a blockbuster sci-fi movie, filled with humongous ships and giant explosions, and it can still be an awful movie if the story isn’t there. Backstory and details are crucial to this. But, over detailing can lead to the viewer or reader getting lost and losing interest.
I watch a lot of sci-fi, but I don’t read a lot of it. With that said, I was intrigued with the idea of a sci-fi novel with a gay MC. Yes, I know these types of stories exist, but I’ve never really been drawn to them. They never seemed grounded. This one, however, was able to strike a balance between being alien, complete with details and backstory, and human.
The Nentraee are an alien race, looking for a new planet to call home after the destruction of their planet. Their race is significantly more advanced than ours, having mastered the ability of space travel. However, their culture is also riddled with some of the same problems as ours, including “clan”/race divides. These problems ultimately led to The Clan Wars. Believe me, this is an over-simplification. To help the reader out, there’s a handy glossary of terms and races at the back of the book.
The “Terran” side of the story is seen through the eyes of Todd, a gay man happily married to his partner Jerry. Todd’s estranged brother shows up at his doorstep with some out of this world news (pun intended), which throws Todd for a loop. Todd, of course, isn’t sure how to deal with this news. How do you really deal with the fact that you have information that almost literally no one else on the planet does, and that information will change everything? His reactions are completely…human.
I will say that this book is a slow build. There’s a lot of information, particularly with the Nentraee, that we get to sift through. But that’s also part of the fun with books and series' of this nature. If everything happens in the first book, what’s the point of the rest? If Bilbo had dumped The One Ring in the first book, the rich landscape of Tolkein’s Middle-Earth would have never been realized.
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