Gabriel offers a hopeful novel about the future of the human race, with a little alien intervention.
Denver Jenkins is 9 years old when an interstellar craft, crewed by three aliens, crash-lands in Canada—an event that would come to be known as the Visitation. The aliens, which include the gruff Big Louis, the humorous Turnip and the beautiful researcher Dandelion, spend several years researching Earth, watching television and repairing their craft. Soon they’re ready for the next stage in their journey, which was meant to be a simple delivery run. However, Denver, now a talented young hacker, manages to exploit a vulnerability in the ship’s “mission box” and steal precious data. The visitors resolve to get that data back in order to avoid breaking laws and regulations against providing information to less-advanced planets. In the process, they bring the young human onto the ship, where he sees Earth from above and exclaims: “[T]here’s so many people down there living in misery. There are machines on this ship that could abolish poverty, help grow enough food, control the environment, and make enough wealth for everybody….I can’t understand why you don’t seem to want to help?” Denver’s perspective changes everything; soon, Dandelion discovers that she can help the planet by using psychic power, and so she brings children with psychic talent aboard the ship. What these children do will change the course of Earth’s history. Throughout this book, the author makes his alien characters delightfully human, from Turnip’s obsession with television, which seems to give him an American accent, to Dandelion’s immense compassion (and remarkable wardrobe). He approaches his sci-fi tale with humor and empathy, and he shows a keen eye for the behavior of children. Although Denver and his alien friends employ jarring jargon at times, the plot is strong enough to support the technological terms and scientific anomalies. Gabriel offers humorous antics as well, as when Turnip uses a holographic device to masquerade as Denver—to disastrous effect. The overall message, however, remains clear: His story’s humans are refreshingly good-hearted and need only a little guidance to help make their planet better. Overall, the book is a pleasant read and features an uplifting conclusion that’s appropriate for children and optimistic adults.
A sci-fi look at what humanity has within itself—and what it could still learn.