Dahlia Black

Keith Thomas. Atria/Leopoldo & Co, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5011-5671-7
This bittersweet saga of first contact with aliens takes the form of a journalistic account of an extraterrestrial signal that alters 30% of the human race, told from the perspective of the 70% “left behind.” Dahlia Mitchell, a struggling astronomer working on dark matter, intercepts a coded radio transmission from outside the Milky Way galaxy and recognizes its significance. Enlisting an ex-boyfriend who’s an NSA analyst, she gains the attention of the U.S. government, which is already starting to worry over reports of strange abilities and conditions manifesting among widely dispersed people. As the genetic tinkering, called the Elevation, spreads worldwide, Dahlia communicates with the aliens and becomes their spokesperson, trying to allay the mounting panic as the Elevated continue to change and prepare to depart for the alien homeworld. Thomas (The Clarity) structures his tale as a series of transcripts, interviews, and journal entries, all footnoted. The documentary conceit lends both an air of believability (critical in a work that is littered with conspiracy theories, past and present) and a sense of tragic but not unwelcome inevitability. Thomas does little to explore the tension between two human fears—being alone in the universe and being meddled with by outside forces—and the integration of conspiracy theories doesn’t always work, but on a more personal level, this story has powerful resonance. It’s not quite World War Z in space, but this creative take on the first contact novel will satisfy UFO seekers and nostalgic X-Files fans. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 03/07/2019
Release date: 08/13/2019
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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