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?
THE RACE TO HIDE THE TRUTH
Hamish is a movie-mogul with a talent at spinning the facts. Because sometimes the public don’t know what’s best for them.
Government spacemen haul something in from the deep dark beyond . . . and it starts talking to them! Apparently, they’re deciphering a series of communications protocols, even as we speak!
Details are sketchy. Maybe not real conversation. But enough to send folks running down the halls of the White House and Blue House and Yellow House, looking all sweaty. Even worse, too many pros in the pencilpushers’ guild know about it already — damned civil servants — for us to exert pressure and get a presidential clamp put on. News is gonna get out this time.
This may be nothing. Or perhaps we can strike another deal with the pencilpushers. Distract the public and keep the lid on, once again.
Still, it has terrible potential. We could be in real trouble, my friend. All of us. All of humankind . . .
A BID TO SURVIVE
Tenskwatawa is a prophet with a dream of new world order. For him, humanity is at a turning point – and First Contact will tip us over into chaos. Survival means ending democracy and letting the aristocracy take the lead.
The present, patched-together social compact cannot hold. And when it fails, there may be blood.
The Enlightenment Experiment is coming to an end . . . The best AI models show it. All ten estates are preparing.
The masses comprise the most dangerous estate of all. Especially if they waken. Do you want to see tumbrels rolling through the streets, filled with condemned aristocrats? Only this time, not only in Paris, but all over the world?
We’ve lived in denial for a dozen, crazed generations . . . Dazzled by shiny toys and bright promises, we concerned ourselves with money, with commerce, investments and status, while the bourgeois and boffins decided all the really important matters.
But every other human civilization knew about this danger . . . and dealt with it in the same way . . . By trusting those who were born to lead!
It’s time to accept that all those other tribes and nations — our ancestors — had it right.
A WARNING FOR THE FUTURE
Lacey is an aristocrat with a penchant for scientific exploration. But soon she must decide if she’ll take her place amongst the new aristo leadership.
It wasn’t that Lacey felt any great loyalty . . . to democracy and all that. Clearly, the Western Enlightenment was drawing to a close. Somebody had to guide the new era, so why not those who were raised and bred for leadership? The way things had been in ninety-nine percent of past human cultures. (How could ninety-nine percent be wrong?) And, well, with the momentum of his movement, Tenskwatawa could make a crucial difference, giving the clade of wealth every excuse it needed . . .
What bothered Lacey wasn’t the necessity of limiting and controlling democracy. No, it was the goal of the prophet. The price he would demand, for helping bring back aristocratic rule. The other thing that must also happen when the Enlightenment fell. Stability. A damping-down of breakneck change. Renunciation.
UNVEILING THE TRUTH
Tor is a whiz reporter. Whatever the consequence for humanity, she won’t stop trolling through reality’s unending virtual overlayers until she lets the public know the truth . . .
We’re hot on the trail of those who knew what the Artifact was, even before Livingstone did. Who may have known about such things for centuries, or longer. Whatever their ancient rationalizations for secrecy . . .
. . . they have not been our friends.
Copies are available for pre-order now, and to see a simulation of the cover, go here.