Anomaly is the first in a series of standalone science fiction novels about First Contact with an extraterrestial intelligence by the gifted Australian author Peter Cawdron. It’s a thought-provoking look at how the public might react to the news of First Contact. Suffice it to say that the picture is not pretty. As a tagline on the cover of the Kindle edition puts it, “First Contact changes everything.” And, sad to say, the story as Cawdron tells it comes across as entirely believable. In Anomaly, extraterrestrial contact brings out the worst in human nature.
Anomaly‘s strengths lie in its passages about the religious and political controversies that erupt in the wake of First Contact and the violence that ensues. In other respects, the novel is weak. The story revolves around a bright elementary school science teacher named David Teller and Cathy Jones, a second-string television reporter. The two find themselves drafted into a team of NASA scientists led by the US National Security Adviser.
Anomaly (First Contact #1) by Peter Cawdron (2011) 375 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)
An unlikely story about extraterrestrial contact
By accident, they’re both on-site outside the United Nations when an extraterrestrial artifact dubbed the anomaly suddenly appears. David and Cathy become caught up in the effort to engage with it. That’s far-fetched enough. In fact, Teller comes up with the key to communicating with the alien. Even more unlikely, he proves to be the smartest guy in the room, grasping the scientific concepts involved more quickly than the illustrious scientists brought to the team. His love interest, the reporter, proves to be no slouch, either. This is what my sarcastic grandmother would have called a likely story.
However, Cawdron is an able writer, and he does an admirable job sketching out the ugly consequences of extraterrestrial contact. In the end, as Teller notes, humans have “never been able to get along. The anomaly hasn’t done anything other than expose the weaknesses that have always been there.”
For further reading
Check out Six new science fiction authors worth reading now. (Yes, Peter Cawdron is one of them.)
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- The ultimate guide to the all-time best science fiction novels;
- Great sci-fi novels reviewed: my top 10 (plus dozens of runners-up); and
- The top 10 dystopian novels reviewed here (plus dozens of others).
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