Debut author Ngoto offers a sci-fi novel about an unexpected pregnancy and its repercussions for mankind.
Elizabeth Redsnow, “a God-fearing, devout, Evangelical Christian,” lives a fairly tranquil existence with her husband, John, on Long Island, New York. All seems well until John is involved in a car accident and dies after six weeks in a coma. Soon after the tragedy, things take a strange turn when Elizabeth finds out that she’s pregnant; she wonders how she could have conceived when she hadn’t had sex since well before the accident. Fearing the judgment of her fellow churchgoers, she agrees to see a doctor whom a friend recommends: the suspiciously named Dr. Uddaka Barracuda. He surprisingly tells her that her pregnancy is likely the result of “a close extraterrestrial encounter,” and he goes on to disclose a vast amount of information regarding aliens and human history. What convinces the devout Elizabeth most, however, are his biblical citations. Isn’t the story of Jonah, he says, really about time spent inside of a space craft? “Tell me, Ms. Redsnow,” he says, “can anyone survive inside a belly of a fish any more than they can survive in a cloud?” But if everything Barracuda says is true, what does that mean for Elizabeth’s child? This book is at its best when it reimagines events in the Bible with the presence of aliens of some kind, and curious readers are likely to gain a new perspective on old texts. Barracuda points out, for example, that people in biblical times would have drawn on their existing vocabulary to describe alien phenomena; hence, he says, terms such as “fire, smoke, cloud, chariot, bird, glory of the Lord and Spirit” would have been used “to describe what could only be a spacecraft.” The story maintains a narrative style that can best be described as blunt (“I’m having a heart attack,” one character states while having a heart attack). For the most part, though, it remains centered on Elizabeth and the endless possibilities for a child who’s not completely of this Earth.
A dry but focused story that’s grounded in real-world considerations despite its fantastical premise.