Series: A New World
Author: M.D. Neu
Genre: Sci Fi
LGBTQ+ Category: Gay
Publisher: NineStar Press
About The Book
A little blue world, the third planet from the sun. It’s home to seven billion people—with all manner of faiths, beliefs, and customs, divided by bigotry and misunderstanding—who will soon be told they are not alone in the universe. Anyone watching from the outside would pass by this fractured and tumultuous world, unless they had no other choice. Todd Landon is one of these people, living and working in a section of the world called the United States of America. His life is similar to those around him: home, family, work, friends, and a husband.
On the cusp of the greatest announcement humankind has ever witnessed, Todd’s personal world is thrown into turmoil when his estranged brother shows up on his front porch with news of ships heading for Earth’s orbit. The ships are holding the Nentraee, a humanoid race who have come to Earth in need of help after fleeing the destruction of their homeworld. How will one man bridge the gap for both the Humans and Nentraee, amongst mistrust, terrorist attacks, and personal loss? Will this be the start of a new age of man or will bigotry and miscommunication bring this small world to its knees and final end?
I just finished reading “Contact,” the first book in M.D. Neu’s “A New World” series. It’s a throwback to the classic sci fi of Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, and James P. Hogan, but updated for our times and stripped of many of the inherent biases of that bygone age.
It’s primarily Todd’s story – how an ordinary (gay) guy becomes involved with the first arrivals from another world, though the secondary characters are also well drawn. Even the bit characters—like Weaqu, an alien who gets about two minutes of screen time—manage to pose interesting questions about how this interactio between two races will actually work.
I found the Nentraee – Contact’s alien race – interesting and relatable, though the book was a bit sketchy on their past and only touched on their fascinating culture. I hope Neu fleshes out their past and differences from humankind more in future books in the series. There’s a lot of material to mine there.
I loved the premise – how the human race would be changed, both as a society and individually – by contact with another race from the stars. I don’t think that it’s giving away too much to say that some of these changes are intensely personal – when one is confronted by an alien race, suddenly the differences you have with your fellow human beings seem pale by comparison, as Todd’s brother Brad discovers early on.
The first half of the book is mostly set-up—albeit well done—introducing the characters and factions involved. We get a look at the Nentraee and where they came from, and see Todd and Jerry with their friend Dan in their San Jose, California home as they absorb the news of the alien arrival.
Then comes the inciting incident – somehting that took me by surprise – that rockets the plot into high gear and sets into motion everything that comes after. It’s an exceedingly well-done action sequence, and Neu’s expert touch dropped me right in the middle of it.
An act of heroism and an unexpected loss color the rest of the story – and yes, I did yell at the author a bit over the latter. You’ll see what I mean, and yeah, it was hard on him too to write it.
The story ends in a good place, but with the hint of much more to come – a very satisfying read. Contact is a five-star sci fi ride through a fascinating possible future, a what-if that feels like it could happen tomorow. Neu has set the stage, and I can’t wait to see where things go from here.
Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.