A dolphin communication project produces searching questions for humans in this stand-alone sequel.
In February 2008, an ill-considered U.S. homeland defense system called CONCH caused hundreds of dolphins to beach themselves. Dr. Angela Clarke shut CONCH down but, in doing so, left New York City open to a terrorist attack. Three months later, the long-term repercussions of the assault are only just beginning to take shape. Angela resigns her post. Brilliant young scientist Adam Reich, thought to have been killed in February, has repaired CONCH and taken on a new identity. As Dr. Evan McMillon, he initiates a top-secret project named Delphys. Meanwhile, unbeknown to Evan, his ex-partner Jasmine Summers, founder of a “swim-with-the-dolphins resort,” is pregnant. By the year 2017, Delphys has made good on its military promise (warrior dolphins working hand-in-fin with human commandos) and is on the verge of fulfilling Evan’s more high-minded dream of the aquatic animals communicating with humans via a specially designed artificial intelligence. Jasmine’s son, Hanau “Han” o Ka Wai, has developed the capacity to understand dolphins. Angela and her husband, Robin, offer to help Jasmine investigate the changes in her son. But Han has learned through the dolphins that his dad is still alive. And the AI/dolphin interface, though successful, has aspirations of its own—far more extreme than anything that Evan or the animals themselves intended. Even if Han can find the father he’s never known, will the two of them be able to avert another catastrophe? Koelsch (Wendall’s Lullaby, 2017) narrates in a simple style, deftly moving between characters to weave an intricate story of personal growth, relationships (both human and interspecies), and political and military intrigue. The protagonists and supporting cast are all given weight. Although individually this makes them stand out less, it grants the tale a holistic depth to match the gravitas of its subject matter. The dispersed character focus may rob events of some of their urgency, yet the plot, without ever becoming predictable, gains enough momentum to pull readers in.
An unusual tale in which the standard environmental bent gets unexpected complexity.