- - February 6th, 2013
Art first glance Wink, New Mexico is a seemingly normal town except that you won’t’ find it on any map. You see Wink should not exist, but that is not the strangest thing you’ll find there when you crack open AMERICAN ELSEWHERE (US | UK | AUS) – the latest novel from Edgar Award winning author Robert JacksonBennett.
Check out Publishers Weekly starred review and read the first chapter of this riveting novel.
“Bennett (The Troupe) gives the idealized image of the American dream a pan-dimensional twist with this alien invasion tale, part Bradbury and part L’Engle with a dash of Edward Scissorhands…Through sharp empathetic detail, the horrific becomes both achingly poignant and comic; a wholesome diner where no one can ever order just one piece of pie shares space with a harsh alien landscape where a quivering blue imp cowers in terror while pleading for his life. Readers will be captivated from start to finish.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Even though it is a fairly cool night, Norris is sweating abundantly. The sweat leaks out of his temples and the top of his skull and runs down his cheeks to pool around his collarbones. He feels little trickles weaving down his arms to soak into the elbows and wrists of his shirt. The entire car now has a saline reek, like a locker room.
Norris is sitting in the driver’s seat with the car running, and for the past twenty minutes he’s been debating whether leaving the car running was a good idea or not. He’s made several mental charts of pros and cons and probabilities, and overall he thinks it was a good idea: the odds that someone will notice the sound of a car idling on this neighborhood lane, and check it out and sense something suspicious, feel fairly low; whereas the odds of him fumbling with the ignition or the clutch if he needs to start the car quickly seem very, very high right now. He is so convinced of his own impending clumsiness that he hasn’t even dared to take his hands off the steering wheel. He is gripping it so hard and his palms are so sweaty that he doesn’t know if he could remove them if he tried. Suction, he thinks. I’m stuck here forever, no matter who notices what.
He’s not sure why he’s so worried about being noticed. No one lives in the neighboring houses. Though it is not posted anywhere—in any visual manner, that is—this part of town is not open to the public. There is only one resident on this street.
Norris leans forward in his seat to reexamine the house. He is parked right before its front walk. Behind the car is a small, neat gravel driveway that breaks off from the paved road and curves down the slope to a massive garage. The house itself is very, very big, but its size is mostly hidden behind the Englemann spruces; one can make out only hints of pristine white wooden siding, sprawling lantana, perfectly draped windows, and clean red-brick walls. And there, at the end of the front walk, is a modest, inviting front door with a coat of bright red paint and a cheery bronze handle.
It is a flawless house, really, a dream house. It is a dream house not only in the sense that anyone would dream of living there; rather, it is so perfect that a house like this could exist only in a dream.
Read the rest of this excerpt.
- - January 17th, 2013
Today Orbit UK is proud to release EXILES (UK | ANZ), an omnibus edition of the critically acclaimed science fiction trilogy, the Uplift Storm series by David Brin. It contains BRIGHTNESS REEF, INFINITY’S SHORE and HEAVEN’S REACH.
These novels, like all books in the multi-award winning Uplift universe, revolve around the theme of biological “uplift” – which is where one species genetically enhances another species to make it sentient.
The intergalactic civilisation called the Five Galaxies is made up of a multitude of sentient races, with each species having its own “patron” race, responsible for uplifting it. But it’s a mystery why humanity seems to be the only species in the universe that hasn’t been uplifted by another patron race . . .
This theme seems to reflect many fundamental questions we have about our own existence. Why do we appear to be alone in the universe as the only form of intelligent life? And if there are other intelligent life forms out there – how will they view us?
Being an active member of SETI, the organisation which conducts scientific research on life in the universe, David Brin is very qualified to talk on this subject. I thought Orbit readers might be interested to read David Brin’s recent post “An Open letter to Alien Lurkers”. It’s his plea to intelligent alien life forms to make sure they don’t get the wrong end of the stick about us humans. To paraphrase a few of the messages within this great piece:
—> If you’ve been monitoring humans’ TV, radio and internet for years now – please be reassured: we’re not all THAT crazy, violent or extreme. Our fiction exaggerates our actions, and our news just covers the bad stuff. But most of us are actually quite relaxed, stable, peaceful beings.
—> If you’re seeing us as dangerous competitors – please don’t. The more civilised we get, the more we realise that competition and cooperation aren’t mutually exclusive. We might be able to add something to the galactic community – and a little bit of competition is always healthy. So please can we talk about it before you either overlook us or blow us to smithereens?
—> If the reason you haven’t contacted us yet is because you’re waiting for us to reach some milestone level of cilivisation, then please could you give us a helping hand with this? We’re very keen to learn!
Trust me, it’s very worth checking this brilliant piece out.
EXILES (UK | ANZ) is the final in a number of beautiful reissues we’ve produced for some of David’s most prestigious and best-known titles, to celebrate the release of his recent masterpiece EXISTENCE (UK | ANZ). All of these books can be seen below in their full glory.
David Brin – photo by Cheryl Brigham
== Essential Questions About Alien Life ==
And now the news from Alpha Centauri . . . (oh, I’ve waited for so long to utter those words! News. From Alpha Centauri) . . .
After an incredible decade, in which the number of planets known beyond our solar system increased from zero to several thousand, astronomers have detected an Earth-sized world orbiting between the two stars nearest to our system, Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. Much too hot to sustain life, it nevertheless will help in narrowing down the search space for others. Moreover, now we have a target for the first interstellar probes, which are already under discussion. Indeed, the youngest of you readers may live to see the launch.
Ah, but this raises the perennial question. If planets are more common than we ever thought, then what about life-worlds? And even alien intelligences?
I have been involved in this topic all my life, having grown up in Southern California, the part of human civilization least rooted in the familiar, traditional or . . . perhaps . . . sane. I am best-known today as an author of novels and stories about our many possible-plausible futures, including some that explore a wide range of possible extraterrestrial civilizations. My scientific career, ranging from optics to astrophysics, led to papers about SETI in the 1980s that include what is still the only full review article in the field, compiling all then public theories for what I called The Great Silence, but that is now more widely known as the Fermi Paradox.
(See a collection of articles and speculations about the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI))
The Fermi Paradox refers to a question posed by the great physicist Enrico Fermi in the 1940s, demanding: “If it seems so likely the universe may host other life forms, how come we haven’t seen any signs?” Not just of radio beacons, but of mighty structures that our own descendants might someday build out there in space. Or leakage from chatty commerce between civilizations. Or indeed, any trace that the Earth was visited during the 2 billion years that it was “prime real estate” with an oxygen atmosphere, but nothing higher than slime molds to defend it. Read the rest of this entry »
- - October 12th, 2012
On Tuesday, i09 posted an article called “10 Tips for Generating Killer Science Fiction Story Ideas”. The first tip, right bang at the top is “Look at the big unanswered questions – Like, why haven’t we heard from other intelligent civilizations yet?”
It seems to me they’re taking their cue from one of science fiction’s great masters there, as David Brin asks exactly that question his latest novel EXISTENCE (UK | ANZ).
Into his plot, David weaves a number of possible answers to the “Fermi Paradox” – the conundrum of why we haven’t we heard from any alien life forms yet when it’s scientifically probable that they do exist. And the story that results is certainly killer. In fact it’s pretty darn mind-blowing.
But importantly, behind David’s writing is an extremely rich, in-depth scientific understanding of the world and the patterns of our progress within it (he is, after all, a real-life astrophysicist and consultant to NASA).
However, out there on the interwebs, there are also a multitude of fun conspiracy theories about where the aliens are hiding. And some of these are, in my humble opinion, just a tad more unlikely. . . Not that we don’t love hearing about them!
I trawled the internet looking for these theories, and here’s a run-down of my personal top 5 for your reading pleasure . . .
1. WORLD LEADERS = SHAPE-SHIFTING REPTOIDS. . .
There exists a rather widespread theory stating that thousands of years ago, extraterrestrials from the “Draco” constellation came to earth and mated with humans, forming reptilian-human crossbreeds.
These beings are hiding amongst us, and they only serve the agenda of the reptilian race. Famous such reptilian-human hybrids include: George W. Bush, Tony Blair, The Rothschilds, Vladimir Putin, The British Royal Family (I’m assuming including Kate Middleton?) etc.
Perhaps this could explain a lot? Read the rest of this entry »
- - June 15th, 2012
David Brin’s upcoming science fiction novel EXISTENCE (UK |ANZ) centres around the discovery of an alien artifact floating high in Earth’s Orbit. It also boldly suggests that our continued existence was never a given. So we wanted to ask, what could First Contact mean for mankind? Are we on a tipping point? Read on for a collection of short excerpts from the book – and see this instance of First Contact from multiple angles . . .
In all of human history, only a few cultures ever managed to guide themselves across such a transition after making contact with superior outsiders, without first passing through long generations of intimidation and victimhood. Or tearing themselves apart . . .
THE MOMENT OF DISCOVERY
Gerald Livingstone is a galactic garbage trawler, clearing up the residue of mankind’s now long-forgotten forays into the galaxy. The strangely alien artifact he stumbles across calls to him subliminally . . .
Could this really be a messenger from some alien civilization?
Bare fingertips hovered over the translucent surface, causing ripples to flow, as if preparing to meet him at the point of contact. Whatever lay within . . . it somehow knew. It sensed the nearness of living flesh.
What if it really is alien? And dangerous?
He couldn’t help suddenly imagining the oblong ovoid — gripped between his thighs — as something out of science fiction. A cuckoo’s egg. Perhaps a Trojan Horse. “Contamination” could work both ways. Might it be a terrible mistake to touch the thing? Read the rest of this entry »