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For fans of World War Z and the Southern Reach Trilogy, a suspenseful oral history commemorating the five-year anniversary of the Pulse—the alien code that hacked the DNA of Earth’s population—and the response team who faced the world-changing phenomenon.
Voyager 1 was a message in a bottle. Our way of letting the galaxy know we existed. That we were out here if anyone wanted to find us.
Over the next forty years, the probe flew past Jupiter and Saturn before it drifted into the void, swallowed up by a silent universe. Or so we thought…
Truth is, our message didn’t go unheard.
Discovered by Dr. Dahlia Black, the mysterious Pulse was sent by a highly intelligent intergalactic species that called themselves the Ascendants. It soon becomes clear this alien race isn’t just interested in communication—they are capable of rewriting human DNA, in an astonishing process they call the Elevation.
Five years after the Pulse, acclaimed journalist Keith Thomas sets out to make sense of the event that altered the world. Thomas travels across the country to interview members of the task force who grappled to decode the Pulse and later disseminated its exact nature to worried citizens. He interviews the astronomers who initially doubted Black’s discovery of the Pulse—an error that critics say led to the world’s quick demise. Thomas also hears from witnesses of the Elevation and people whose loved ones vanished in the Finality, an event that, to this day, continues to puzzle Pulse researchers, even though theories abound about the Ascendants’ motivation.
Including never-before-published transcripts from task force meetings, diary entries from Black, and candid interviews with Ballard, Thomas also shows in Dahlia Black how a select few led their country in its darkest hours, toward a new level of humanity.
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.