Edward M. Lerner,
by Jerry Wright
Author: Edward M. Lerner
Publisher: Baen Books
Hardcover: 304 pages
Ed Lerner is a warped man. This book starts out as what seems to be a standard first contact novel. A two mile wide spaceship appears and orbits the moon, and centauroid aliens called the F'thk land in Washington D.C. and tell everyone that the Earth has the potential of joining a Galactic Commonwealth. They are friendly, they have gifts for everyone (although not terribly useful gifts, the little balls are attractive) but when asked about sharing their technology, their answer is "Information is a trade good". Which is all very well, except that they aren't trading.
Science advisor Kyle Gustafson who is not only a physicist, but also a recovering whipping boy (the Powers that Be found him to be a convenient scapegoat for the loss of a shuttle and the death of the astronauts on what should have been a routine launch from Canaveral), is bothered by a multitude of little inconsistencies. Are the authorities listening?
And every time you think you have a handle on what is happening, Lerner shifts the story in a direction you just can't guess.
I could tell you about the escaped Alien named Swelk, who seeks out Gustafson and casts either new light or massive obfuscation on the whole thing. I could tell you about tripod aliens. I could tell you a whole bunch of things.
But I won't. Much of the joy of this book are the changes that Lerner rings, and the changes he puts us through. Buy this book. It is fun, and well worth your time and money. This story was serialized in Analog a couple of years ago, and I read it then. I just re-read it, and it was better than I remembered, and I thought it was good the first time.