Transmission is a childish sci-fi novel.

Some of the very best science fiction novels I’ve read have been marketed for young adults. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a 13-or 14-year-old protagonist. You know it’s unlikely there’ll be any smoldering sex scenes or extravagant use of profanity. But otherwise there’s no reason to believe the story will be in any way inferior to other books in the genre. So, as I became steadily more deeply engrossed in the tale of 13-year-old Kevin McKenzie, I had high hopes for Transmission, the first book in the Invasion Chronicles by Morgan Rice. Sadly, it was not to be. This childish sci-fi novel began falling apart less than halfway through.


Transmission (Invasion Chronicles #1) by Morgan Rice (2018) 187 pages ★★☆☆☆


Why this sci-fi novel is childish

So, what’s wrong with Transmission? Three major, not to say insurmountable, problems:

  1. Precocious or not, it’s hardly believable that a 13-year-old could be as perceptive about adult behavior as Rice portrays him.
  2. It’s even more unlikely that adults in positions of power would defer so abjectly to Kevin. Yes, at several key junctures in the story, he bosses them around. People like the Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. If you believe that, maybe you deserve this novel.
  3. And then, to top it all off, the story descends into silliness as we learn more and more about the aliens whose transmissions only Kevin seems able to understand.

I only kept reading this book to the end because I hoped against hope that the first contact implied in the plot would be inventive. It’s not. It’s just silly.

For further reading

I’ve reviewed much better books about first contact with aliens, including:

It’s also worth noting that several classic science fiction novels have probed the theme of first contact. Those include Carl Sagan’s Contact, Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendevous With Rama, and The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

For more good reading, check out:

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