THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
The alternate history first contact adventure Axiom's End is an extraordinary debut from Hugo finalist and video essayist Lindsay Ellis.
Truth is a human right.
It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.
Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.
Communication and trust are matters of life and death in Ellis's thoughtful, fast-paced debut. In 2007, two meteorites strike the Los Angeles area within the span of one month and a leak reveals that the U.S. government is aware of extraterrestrial life on earth. Cora Sabino, the whistleblower's daughter, is abducted by one of these life-forms shortly thereafter. Cora makes a deal to interpret for her abductor, Ampersand, the alien who arrived with the first meteorite whose language she's able to understand thanks to his advanced technology. She hopes to use her ability to communicate with Ampersand to bargain for her father's safety from the government. But soon, Cora's caught in the middle of an interspecies alien conflict as Obelus, who arrived in the second meteorite, hunts down the Fremda group, refugees who arrived on Earth 40 years earlier. Cora and Ampersand bond while working together, but can Cora really trust a being whose conception of morality is so different from her own? Though a too-quick ending is somewhat unsatisfying, the powerful connection that grows between Cora and Ampersand as they teach each other about their respective cultures is masterfully done. Lovers of character-focused sci-fi will find plenty to enjoy in this gripping alternate history.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Enthralling and emotionally effective
i bought this book at 11 at night and by 7pm the next day i had finished it, with occasional breaks for sleep and drawing. i’ve never been so drawn to a story and it’s characters. the world building is also incredible with plenty left open for speculation and spin off works.
Ampersand is adorably awkward but very willing to understand Cora and her feelings and needs. He possesses a level of empathy we’re only used to attributing to humans, something we have a hard time conceptualizing coming from anything non-human, despite him being entirely alien.
Cora is such an amazing example of a strong female character written properly, and the casualness with which Lindsay describes her past dating girls is very much appreciated. Representation of LGBT characters, especially of women, often centers on their gender or sexuality in a very reductionist un-nuanced way.
the twist was also built up very well while not being obvious, and the emotionality of it is in no way lost with the reveal like many twists are.
if i could rate this higher i would, it is quite literally the best book i’ve ever written. thanks lindsay, excited for the sequel
First Contact Taken Seriously
The first contact subgenre seems to fall into 3 categories; ET-type (cute, cuddly, helpless), War of the Worlds (invasion, war), or Star Trek (humans but with one defining, different trait). Axiom’s End seems to be following in the vein of stories like Arrival that want to wrestle seriously with the truly /alien/ parts of first contact. It contains some of the action and intrigue you would expect from the ET version, but combines it with serious introspection about culture clash, language, and the power of information. There’s a distinct point in the story where a similar book would allow the aliens to blast off and wrap up the story with a simple return to status quo. To Ellis’s credit the work is put in to resolve the plot beyond an acknowledgement that humanity is fearful of the Other.
Excellent first effort!
I will be looking for her next book.