A first-contact story that offers an intriguing new take of the origin of humankind.
Thanks to substantial government funding, a corporation called Astmine, working closely with NASA, is able to harvest minerals and metals from asteroids. It’s no longer business as usual when a deep-space telescope picks up a large asteroid wandering into the inner part of Earth’s solar system. After analysis reveals that it’s made up of several valuable metals, Astmine, NASA, and government officials begin a successful, decade-long campaign to mount a mission to capture the asteroid, nicknamed Bell, and bring it into orbit around the moon: “Not since the days of Kennedy’s America had the people rallied around an American mission into space. America, once again, was on the move.” But after they safely anchor Bell, they make a startling discovery: it’s actually a spaceship carrying the Methodians, a race of people surprisingly similar to humans who are migrating from a dying galaxy to a new home many light years away. The problem is that space debris damaged their ark, so the Methodians needs the humans’ help to repair it. It’s also revealed that the same conditions that led the Methodians to flee will reach Earth’s solar system in 600 years. The rest of the novel shows the two races working together to build space arks, despite destructive opposition from radical Muslims and fanatics on the Christian right. Lea sets his novel on a near future Earth that has once again embraced space exploration, and he wisely portrays it not as a journey of discovery but as economic stimulus to help the world emerge from recession. He also develops an engaging premise: can two races from different planets set aside their differences for the common good? Unfortunately, despite his detailed exposition, there’s little shading in his characterizations; all the players are simply portrayed as either good guys or bad. However, the momentum and scope of the narrative manage to overcome this shortcoming.
A well-meaning sci-fi novel that takes an unusual approach to Earth’s initial interaction with alien races.