Tuesday, 2015-03-17

Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley

This is a full-length novel set in McAuley’s “Jackaroo” universe, previously the setting of some short stories early in his career.

In the Near Future(tm), the alien Jackaroo appear over an Earth ravaged by climate change, economic collapse and rampant nuclear terrorism - The Spasm. They offer humanity free transport to fifteen habitable planets via wormhole gates. There are no strings attached (well our space program is ended, but it’s not clearly forbidden as it is in the previous stories).

Humanity has a new chance. Just like the countless other civilizations the Jackaroo have assisted in the past.

The gift planets are rife with artifacts left over from the “Elder Races”, not all of them benign or useful. For every fast-growing coral useful to constructing dams against the rising oceans, there’s a new drug spreading havoc. People have the chance to emigrate and start a new life on a new world, where they promptly fall back into a life of crime or start McDonald’s franchises.

Our protagonists come in contact with an alien eidolon, a ghost left in an artifact from the planet Mandala, and are caught up in a race against time to reach a dig site out in the planet’s outback… where something’s coming through…

I’m a huge fan of McAuley and really enjoyed this book. It’s an artful blend of first contact, humans vs alien and police procedural, and it takes a while to figure out how the two strands of the story is intertwined.

Big props to my local library for ordering this book basically as soon as it appeared in stores!

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