Author: Joe Haldeman:
The following review was contributed by: Paul Lappen: CLICK TO VIEW Paul Lappen's Reviews
In the middle of the 21st Century, Aurora Bell is an Astronomy professor at the
University of Florida in Gainesville. One day, she receives a message from outer
space ("We're Coming") that seems to herald the arrival of alien visitors. The
alien ship is traveling at just under the speed of light, and will arrive on New
Year's Day, three months from now.
Earth of the mid-21st Century is not prepared for any sort of invasion. Global
warming has begun to alter Earth's climate. Much of Long Island is under water,
and in Florida, going outside for any length of time without sunscreen is a bad
idea. Europe is again on the brink of war. The American President, Carlie
LaSalle, is an airbrushed creation of the political consultants and media
managers. She tends to look at everything in terms of a conspiracy against her;
the general consensus is that she has approximately six working brain cells.
LaSalle orders the deployment of a space-based laser carried on a shuttle to
destroy the alien ship if it starts firing on Earth. Such a laser could also be
pointed downward, like at some European city, getting Europe very upset at
America. If They (whoever they are) have light-speed space travel, and
intetrstellar capabilities, won't they have defenses against orbiting laser
systems? Even worse, if Earth gets them angry, won't they have the ability to
severely damage, or destroy, the Earth? On the other hand, who ever heard of a
one-ship "invasion?" Grayson Pauling, the President's Science Advisor, is
totally opposed to LaSalle's plan, opposed enough to sneak several pounds of
plastic explosive into a Cabinet meeting. Amid all this, Bell is less and less
convinced that aliens are coming. A longer message, detailing just where and
when they will land, is in present-day colloquial English. Something is heading
for Earth, but what?
This is another solid, you-won't-go-wrong story from Haldeman. It is more about
Earth several decades from now than about Alien Contact, but it is still a gem
of a novel.