Today s the turn of Terence Park and his novel A Guide to First Contact.
A mission to a near earth object. Sound familiar? I guess it should; we’ve been aiming at that for the last 50 years or so. Ruling out the Moon and Mars landings, the Rosetta mission to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko counts as the first. What will we discover? Dunno; but in a fictional sense that’s where things kick off in my book: A Guide to First Contact.
Like most science fiction, Guide is a blend of fact and supposition. It has larger and smaller story arcs. In the outermost arc, evolution is set into a narrative framework. In doing this, attention is drawn to a wrinkle (or flaw) in Darwin’s thinking. It’s there which makes it convenient for plotting purposes. This arc goes on to describe classes of entity who are powerful enough to shape the course of life on Earth. To do this they use creatures who double up as living tools. Both classes of entity have a function and purpose – but events go awry. This ultimately drives them to take on human shape. So Guide has aliens who look like us, can act like us and in the end, start to think like us. Their story is touched upon enough to show personality and desire.
Set within this is the main story arc. The hero in this is Triste, who is first tested and then goes on to become the bait in a larger scheme.
The minor story arcs are set in the present day and begin like this: Brent doesn’t fit. He’s a square peg in a round hole. Though he’s an intelligence liaison, he’s too clumsy to shack up to the woman he fancies. She heads up a research team who are busy looking into genetics and the history of man. What they don’t know is what they’re looking at is the result of an alien intervention, long, long ago, in the Late Pleistocene. Back in the present day, Brent’s long-time buddy, Watcher, bails him out again. Brent’s got a degree in haplessness – from the College of Life.
The thing is, Watcher’s into stuff like conspiracies. Be careful Brent or you’ll be sucked in, gutted and hung up to dry.
Forty years later, the West has collapsed and the apocalypse is in full swing. What happened? Quite a lot. Earth was contacted by aliens triggering a rapture effect. No one has worked out what to do with the undying flesh of the undead. Most cities are abandoned as unsafe; they’re known as former urban areas. Xenogens – genetic plagues in all but name – are still raging out of control. Catch one and you degenerate into a dangerous, sub-human brute. The problem with dangerous, sub-human brutes is they’re xenogen carriers. Former Urban Area One (former New York) is crawling with them. Triste prowls its streets. There’s always work for a mercenary.
Watch out Triste; something wicked is coming.
Heroes never listen. Triste meets Shoe. She’s on the run. They stumble upon an abandoned research lab and find old records of life before the apocalypse. But will they work out what went wrong? Do they want to? Shoe has got dark secrets; she knows more about xenogens than she lets on. There are other things she can’t tell Triste.
What does it mean to be human? Some appear human but aren’t. Others aren’t aware of the fact they’re not human. What comes after? (us of course) The apocalypse is the trigger. It takes the shape of a genetic storm which impacts on the human race as epidemics. This is a pre-cursor to post-human creatures. They begin to appear. The main character meets one. Not everything is sweetness and light in this future Earth, but they reach out to each other. They get to debate whether God exists. A key undercurrent is sex, but this rarely breaks the surface. There is more than one ‘First Contact’. The most powerful characters are female; the story won’t work otherwise. Guide, however, isn’t a feminist tract.
I’ve put up a resources site which is here: https://aguidetofirstcontact.wordpress.com/ After my book was edited (by Stephen Cashmmore of SfEP) I did a web interview with Louise Harnby which is here: www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com/4/post/2013/09/client-talk-the-independent-author-tp-archie.html (note: at that point I was writing under my web name). Guide is made up of two novels: The Fécunda, and The Xenocotrix. At some point in the future I will break it up into its constituent parts.
Where to get it:
The UK links are:
US links are: