SCI-FI ADVISORY (and RULE BREAKER)
by Ben Bova
First, let me say that author Ben Bova has written a gazillion Sci-Fi books and all of them are good! This is no exception.
The premise: Astronauts orbit the night-time surface of an Earth-like planet preparing for exploration. Suddenly, a small beacon of light appears in the darkness! Someone is home!
This book is well-written and the characteres have substance. I was intrigued by the plot and enjoyed the book until about midway, when the aliens were finally encountered. <sigh> What followed was a disappointing cliche – The “WE ARE HERE TO WARN YOU ABOUT YOUR FUTURE” scenario.
It seems the aliens were created by another more ancient, more powerful race to act as emissaries to relay the message to other intelligent species that a deadly gamma ray [Death Star?] was coming their way that could wipe out everything! Now the astronauts have to go home and convince everyone that mankind must make plans to abandon Earth in the near future.
There was the standard Sci-Fi “inter-species falling in love “subplot [not graphic], which in this case seemed neither believable or necessary. However, there was a brief passage on pages 351-353 that really intrigued me. It described the creatures of another alien world who had been overtaken and destroyed by the same “Death Star” above. I would have preferred that THEY had been the aliens that the astronauts encountered! It would have made a much better story.
Still – ALIENS – you just gotta love them.