4 out of 4 stars
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Do you like old school science fiction? Were you a sci-fi fan when it was unpopular to be one? If so, you are going to enjoy reading First Contact: Strings Attached by Paul J. Nelson, J.D. It is reminiscent of classic sci-fi. Think Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
The story opens with Zalk, an astronomy professor. He is recovering from having made the professional faux pas of suggesting there is life on Arken, the planet orbiting Zalk's home planet Zeon. After being academically and socially blacklisted for some time he has regained a university position, and he and his wife Elfa have rebuilt their quiet modest life together. To his dismay Zalk's newly recovered life is endangered by an ambitious young reporter bent on selling newspapers and advancing her career by any means necessary. Under false pretenses she has encouraged Zalk to open up about his psychic abilities and his continued belief that there is intelligent life "out there". Once again his lifestyle is threatened. This time he is offered help from an unknown source but, as the title implies, the help comes with strings attached.
From A to Z, the planets that revolve around each other as they orbit their shared sun may as well have been called Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Arken is 1,000 years ahead of Zeon technologically speaking, and Zeon is comparable to Earth in the 19th century. Zeon's latest inventions are the telescope, the camera, the steam engine and electricity. To say more here would require including spoilers.
Fans of classic science fiction will love this novel. As is typical of any good book of this genre the story is invented but the questions it raises about human nature and behavior are genuine. Should people live on the cusp of their financial means based on societal expectations? Can people be expected to behave ethically when there is potential for great personal gain? Who can be trusted? Is the ruin of the minority justifiable for the prosperity of the majority? Mr. Nelson does an expert job of weaving these questions into the fabric of the tale.
People who prefer not to read academic writing may not enjoy this book, as it may have them going to a dictionary several times throughout he reading of the text.
Mr. Nelson includes a glossary of terms, and his legal background shows in his use of footnotes throughout the book whenever a new term or concept is introduced. The novel appears to be professionally edited, with only one grammatical error of note. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend you run, don't walk to get your copy of this captivating story today!
First Contact: Strings Attached
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