Fiction Reviews

Slow Lightning

(2000) Jack McDevitt, Voyager, trdpbk, £10.99, 435pp, ISBN 0-00-224735-6


Published as Infinity Beach in N. America, in Slow Lightning mankind has spread to nine worlds in space and has never yet encountered an alien, despite an ambitious programme to create artificial novas in order to gain their attention. The received wisdom is that we are alone in the Universe. But on the planet of Equatoria Dr. Kim Brandywine is asked to solve a 27 year old mystery, involving what could be an anti-matter explosion, featuring the (now deceased) members of a ‘contact’ expedition to the star Alnitak in Orion’s Belt, one of whom was the clone sister of Brandywine. What did the team encounter that led to the deaths of all within three years and, furthermore, did they unwittingly bring something back with them that is now haunting the explosion site? And, even assuming that Brandywine can discover the truth, does she have the skill to avoid the mistakes the previous team made? Slow Lightning is, largely, a mystery of first contact, and McDevitt cleverly points out just how sensitive that first meeting might be. Perhaps not the best book on this theme, nonetheless it is an enthralling read.

Tony Chester

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