In Axiom's End, aliens have visited Earth.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

For nearly three-quarters of a century, reports have repeatedly surfaced in news media of UFOs and alien abductions in the United States. The names Roswell and Area 51 have become shorthand for conspiracy theories about “the government’s” ongoing suppression of information about all this proof of extraterrestrial visitations. Of course, there is no such proof, and no coverup, and the US government has recently announced it will open up most of its files about the matter. Surely, those files will establish beyond reasonable doubt that most of the reports merely reflect mass hysteria and, in some cases, mental disease. But what if some of those accounts are, indeed, true? What if, despite all the protestations, there is an ongoing coverup, and aliens have visited Earth already? That’s the premise of Lindsay Ellis‘ intriguing science fiction novel, her debut, Axiom’s End.

Axiom’s End (Noumena #1) by Lindsay Ellis (2020) 384 pages ★★★★☆

Aliens have visited Earth in this clever science fiction tale

A man with the curious name of Nils Ortega has become the world’s most famous whistleblower for publishing reports on his website, The Broken Seal. Ortega claims to have proven that the American government has been harboring a group of extraterrestrials at a secret site for many decades. Apparently, federal agents have been attempting without success to communicate with the aliens there. But that will soon change. Recently, a highly visible “meteor” that is in reality an extraterrestrial spaceship has landed in Southern California. And the alien who emerges from that ship will become inextricably linked with Ortega’s daughter, Cora, and his sister, Luciana. When yet a second “meteor” lands near the first, the pace of the story, already brisk, picks up considerably and sets off a race toward an explosive ending.

Published in 2020 but set in 2007

For some reason that’s hard to discern, Ellis has chosen to set her story in 2007 during the administration of George W. Bush. Since Cora, the protagonist of the novel, finds multiple opportunities to inveigh against the War in Iraq, that alone may explain her choice. Still, it would have made more sense to position the tale at some undetermined time in the near future, since the events in this book have clearly not taken place. That, it would seem to me, is the way to go if you really want to raise eyebrows with a story that promotes the claim that aliens have visited Earth. I’m aware that the publisher has billed this novel as “alternate history,” but since the events that take place in the Bush Administration don’t lead to anything interesting in subsequent years, I don’t see the point. Perhaps those deviations from history don’t become meaningful until the book’s sequel; that doesn’t seem fair to this book’s reader, however.

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