Friday, April 9, 2010

"InterstellarNet: Origins"

For thirty years, Edward M. Lerner toiled in the vineyards of high tech. Then, suitably intoxicated, he began writing science fiction full-time. He writes both near-future, Earth-based techno-thrillers (like Fools’ Experiments and Small Miracles) and -- as with his latest novel, InterstellarNet: Origins -- more traditional spacefaring adventures.

He applied the Page 69 Test to InterstellarNet: Origins and reported the following:
We are not alone. Now what?

InterstellarNet: Origins begins with a signal from -- someone -- a few light-years from Earth, and humanity is plunged into turmoil. What do the aliens want? Do we dare to respond? Do we dare not to? Who gets any say in the matter? And if species share technology, how much more chaotically will we all careen into the future?

The issue can’t be faced once and forgotten, because every interaction with the aliens -- and, we soon find out, more than one nearby star harbors intelligent life -- changes everyone. And many of the crises are existential.

Charise Ganes, diplomat from impoverished Belize, leads the countries that resist responding to the original alien message. On page 69 we find Charise confronting Bridget Satterswaithe and Dean Matthews -- ringleaders among those advocating a response -- at the ceremony to mark transmission of Earth’s first interstellar message in reply.
“I didn’t expect to see you today.” Satterswaithe said.

I failed to prevent us from answering. That makes me responsible, too. “Where else would I be today?” Charise paused to glare at the man who had bumped her elbow while squeezing past. “What we do this day is important. We agree on that. And surely, as you expect, in the coming years we will learn many wondrous things. ET will, too. I hope that is all that happens.”

“What else could happen?” Matthews asked.

“I don’t know,” Charise candidly admitted. “Or rather, we don’t know. We can’t know. And yet, like ET before us, we would presume to gamble with the destinies of worlds.”

“Driving a car is a gamble,” Matthews retorted. “Everything we do, every day, is a gamble. ‘I don’t know’ is no reason to stand in the way of progress. What can you possibly be worried about?”

“Not all gambles have the same stakes,” Satterswaithe reminded, softly.

A flicker of doubt? Charise wondered. If so, it came too late to matter.

Hoping she was wrong and certain she was not, Charise said, “What do I worry about? That galactization will prove to be globalization on steroids, and Earth the exploited hinterlands.”
Themes of trust, risk, and unintended consequences resound -- with the stakes higher each time -- for the remainder of the book.
Learn more about the author and his work at his website, Edward M. Lerner, perpetrator of science fiction and techno-thrillers, and blog SF and Nonsense.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue