When a disabled spaceship enters Earth's atmosphere, seven members of the advanced Tosok race are welcomed by the world. Then a popular scientist is murdered, and all evidence points to one of the Tosoks. Now, an alien is tried in a court of law-and there may be far more at stake than accounting for one human life.
If an alien spaceship appeared in Earth orbit tomorrow, how would humanity react? If Sawyer (Frameshift) is right, there would be little hysteria, especially if the aliens came to us in need of help. In Sawyer's new novel, the Tosoks, natives of a planet circling Alpha Centauri, have been on a mission of exploration, but their starship has sustained damage from interplanetary debris. Now they need to repair their craft and are willing to trade scientific knowledge for our help. It will take a couple of years, but everyone involved appears friendly, so there doesn't seem to be a problem. Then a much-beloved scientist and TV personality, the world's leading expert on the Tosoks, is found gruesomely dead, and the evidence points to an alien as the murderer. Sawyer carefully underplays just about everything in this solid but unspectacular SF version of a legal thriller. The aliens, for example, although far from human and described in fascinating detail, demonstrate few unearthly abilities, and we see relatively little of their superior technology. There are, however, several worthwhile mysteries to be solved, and in the end Sawyer raises the stakes by invoking the possible extermination of humanity. But he deals with even this crisis in a relatively low-key manner, creating a novel that, while absorbing, doesn't rise to the level of The Terminal Experiment, for which he won the 1995 Nebula for best novel.
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An Alien Mystery Novel
This a very good effort by Mr. Sawyer and I enjoyed the book. He tackles a lot of issues here, but ultimately, the story becomes a little frayed towards the end.