Donovan (Conspiracy Films, 2011, etc.) ventures into fiction with this story of baffling stone globes suddenly appearing around the world and the ways in which the populace responds.
Ex-cop Rick Ballantine may have stumbled on a topic for the reality TV show pilot he’s shooting, Confirmation: Investigations of the Unexplained. More specifically, he crashes into it: a 15-foot-wide stone globe sitting on a gravelly California road. It’s the type of unexplained event the Confirmation crew fancies, especially as there’s no indication of anyone transporting the globe to that spot. Skeptics, like the local authorities, are sure there’s a reasonable explanation, even when an identical sphere appears in New Jersey. But when multiple globes crop up worldwide, civilians and conspiracy theorists flock to the sites. Rick and his colleagues—including journalist Cornelia Oxenburg and the show’s academic, Dan Knight— become the center of the media’s attention for their initial discovery. Debates on the nature of the globes are incessant, with assorted reactions: Some believe they’re a sign of aliens while others see them as a government subterfuge. But soon come the “hum-experiencers,” people who say they can hear a buzzing sound emitting from the globes. Is it a message or simply a series of unfounded claims? Despite the possibly supernatural globes, Donovan’s leisurely paced novel concentrates on the human element. Citizens in different countries, for example, presuming governments are hiding the truth of extraterrestrials, stage sometimes-violent protests. There’s likewise an exhaustive backstory; the Chinese triads’ involvement in a globe-related explosion precipitates the discussion of a 1970s Bruce Lee–imitating film star that’s entertaining but digressive. Nevertheless, the tale is at its best when presenting diverse forms of media; most chapters conclude with a newspaper article, while characters relay information via blogs, podcasts, and social media. These are sometimes-comical: DJs on a vapid radio show seem irritated that some of the globes appear outside the U.S. The ending provides a few clarifications and lingering questions for readers to ponder.
A captivating examination of humanity’s fear of the unknown, with hints of sci-fi and fantasy.