In Greenburg’s SF debut, Earth in 2030 may be in danger of colliding with a rogue planet moving through the solar system.
A Hawaiian space observatory captures a possible asteroid that’s getting brighter. When it’s clear that it’s moving at an astonishing speed, astronomer Matt Olsen confers with colleagues in Texas. The object is not an asteroid but a rogue planet headed toward Earth. The planet may be slowing down, which also means an alien species may be “steering” it. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Planet Babek, thanks to their dying sun, have been living in caves for more than 2 millennia. They’re using thousands of thrusters to move to another solar system, and they’re fully aware of humans’ presence on the blue planet. But many on Babek, which hasn’t seen war in 50-plus generations, despise humanity’s propensity for violence. Some even suggest eliminating the humans. But while the inhabitants vote against such an act, someone on Babek sabotages a good number of thrusters. This will force the planet, in order to get into orbit, to redirect itself using Earth’s gravity, which will likely have catastrophic results on the humans’ world. Greenburg’s novel, which launches a prospective series, sets an impressive pace from the start. Along with the countdown to the potential collision, the suspense builds as Babek inhabitants race to reconnect thrusters and attempt to warn humans of the impact. The author retains simplicity with minimal characters (Earth is primarily represented by U.S. scientists) and concise descriptions. At the same time, the aliens’ complex manner of communication is “translated” into English. This fascinating species converses by flashing their colorful feathers, and though the winged beings are certainly birdlike, they sport six eyes. Delving into the aliens’ history offers surprising reveals, including how they’ve retained peace for so long and created their machines, which may prove deadly against humans. A cliffhanger ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel or two.
An entertaining futuristic tale with a thoroughly established, cool alien species.