Robert Charles Wilson, says The New York Times, "writes superior science fiction thrillers." His Darwinia won Canada's Aurora Award; his most recent novel, The Chronoliths, won the prestigious John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Now he tells a gripping tale of alien contact and human love in a mysterious but hopeful universe.
At Blind Lake, a large federal research installation in northern Minnesota, scientists are using a technology they barely understand to watch everyday life in a city of lobster like aliens upon a distant planet. They can't contact the aliens in any way or understand their language. All they can do is watch.
Then, without warning, a military cordon is imposed on the Blind Lake site. All communication with the outside world is cut off. Food and other vital supplies are delivered by remote control. No one knows why.
The scientists, nevertheless, go on with their research. Among them are Nerissa Iverson and the man she recently divorced, Raymond Scutter. They continue to work together despite the difficult conditions and the bitterness between them. Ray believes their efforts are doomed; that culture is arbitrary, and the aliens will forever be an enigma.
Nerissa believes there is a commonality of sentient thought, and that our failure to understand is our own ignorance, not a fact of nature. The behavior of the alien she has been tracking seems to be developing an elusive narrative logic--and she comes to feel that the alien is somehow, impossibly, aware of the project's observers.
But her time is running out. Ray is turning hostile, stalking her. The military cordon is tightening. Understanding had better come soon....
Blind Lake is a 2004 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel.
Wilson (The Chronoliths) grapples with the ineffable in a superior SF thriller notable for credible characters and a well-crafted plot. In the mid-21st century, revolutionary new technology allows scientists to watch life forms on planets circling other stars as if they were just a few feet away. At Blind Lake, one of two installations devoted to this purpose, Marguerite Hauser studies an enigmatic alien being who has been dubbed Subject, while also dealing with her ex-husband, Ray Scutter, a mid-level bureaucrat who constantly questions her fitness to have custody over their daughter, Tessa. Then Blind Lake mysteriously goes into lockdown the day after Chris Carmody, a journalist beset by self-doubt and a sordid past, arrives in hopes of finding a story that will restart his career. Automated trucks continue to deliver food, but all communication with the outside world is cut off. Military drones kill anyone attempting to break the quarantine. As the months pass, the installation's large population begins to come unglued. In particular, Ray, who disapproves of Marguerite's new relationship with Chris, starts to stalk his ex-wife. Tessa's possible contact with an alien even stranger than Subject adds to the suspense. Thoughtful and deliberately paced, this book will appeal to readers who prefer science fiction with substance. (Aug. 7)FYI: The Chronoliths won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel of 2002, and was nominated for both the Hugo and Aurora awards for that year.