Thunderbird

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Thunderbird

If anyone has ever wondered what might happen if we ever made first contact with extraterrestrials, it might be a good idea to read the new sci-fi novel, Thunderbird, by Jack McDevitt. This novel was so good! Once I started reading it, it was hard to put down. In fact, I read 100 pages the first day I started reading it. I have always been fascinated by this topic and I really enjoyed reading just one kind of scenario of what might happen if humans and aliens ever met with each other.

This quote by a scientist in the story sums up the whole topic: "There's a lot of romance involved in the hunt for extraterrestrial life." Indeed, Hollywood has had a lot of fun making the prospect of communicating with aliens something to feel all warm and fuzzy about. There’s a lot of romanticism thrown in along with a good dose of the worst-case scenario a la Independence Day. While some people put down searching for extraterrestrial life given what humans have done to our own planet and for our tendency for war and murder, there are many people pushing the search for extraterrestrials because they believe that just maybe they can save the human race or save our planet. Or help us to understand the insanity of all the wars, poverty and ignorance that has caught humankind in its grasp. We grew up having these different types of ideas spoon-fed to us through movies, TV shows and sci-fi novels and so naturally it would influence how we would act if just such a situation were to happen in real life.

The discomfort and suspicion some characters felt over the prospect of teleporting from one place to another, let alone from one planet to another, using the teleporter that somehow magically appeared one day on a Sioux reservation reminded me of Star Trek. In some of the shows, characters felt that same anxiety over using the transporter device to energize from one place to another. In fact, in one episode, a transporter session failed and people died. It’s human nature to fear the unknown.

However, it would seem that suspicion is the stronger of the feelings the general public have about the teleporter. The President sees it as a threat to the transportation industry and wants it destroyed. I had a hard time trying to understand this logic. The teleporter threatened the transportation industry? Really? It only took people to another planet, not the nearest 7-11. Then some people start to get paranoid about it and some even panic. There's even a teenager with a plot to blow up the thing, thinking he'll save the world. It doesn't help that there is a supernatural, possibly extraterrestrial creature, flitting about and causing mischief. People start to wonder if it's connected to the teleporter. That maybe an unknown alien made it back to Earth with the intent of hurting people.

The aliens call their continent "Arkonik." The Chairman of the Sioux tribe jumps on this and calls the aliens "Arkons." I was actually quite interested in the use of the word "Arkon" for the aliens. I have co-authored a book with Martha Jette and there was information about aliens called the "Archons" in this book. It was actually an alien species that could be read about in a very old book: The Nag Hammadi. Martha mentions this in our book but one might do well to look into it further. The author's description of his own "Arkons" in this novel do not match what is known about the Archons so I started to wonder if he got his inspiration for the idea of the Arkons from that very ancient book. To be honest, though, the name “Arkon” is better than calling the aliens "gorillas."

I was also troubled by some characters saying they wanted to take cars to the mysterious planet and drive around on it. Seriously? We have already polluted our air because of cars. So we want to pollute the air on an otherwise clean, untouched and very healthy planet? I mean, come on! These are aliens that eat fruit and don’t use natural resources for their own benefit. They’re actually more ecologically-conscious than we humans are here on planet Earth. So we take cars over to this otherwise clean planet. And I guess open up a McDonald’s over there, too? Killing the animals to eat? And, oh, yeah, taking their money, if they have money, to line the pockets of Big Business. Right! Just one example of how humans could mess up everything for an alien civilization that pretty much has things much better off than we Earthlings do.

This story raises a lot of questions. Do we humans have a right to communicate with extraterrestrials? What kind of harm or damage would we bring to other worlds? Are we ready to embrace the future of transportation? Are we able to accept something so different from the norm and use it to further the human experience? How far are we willing to go in exploring unknown worlds and strange galaxies?

Thunderbird was an awesome sci-fi novel that was hard for me to put down. It covers a very big topic that many people often wonder about and reading this type of scenario of what might happen if we ever had contact with aliens on another world really made me think. The story kept me turning the pages and despite the sad ending it was a really good story to read.


Book Blurb for Thunderbird

The Nebula Award–winning author of the Alex Benedict novels and the Priscilla Hutchins novels returns to the world of Ancient Shores in a startling and majestic epic.

A working stargate dating back more than ten thousand years has been discovered in North Dakota, on a Sioux reservation near Devils Lake. Travel through the gate currently leads to three equally mysterious destinations: (1) an apparently empty garden world, quickly dubbed Eden; (2) a strange maze of underground passageways; or (3) a space station with a view of a galaxy that appears to be the Milky Way.

The race to explore and claim the stargate quickly escalates, and those involved divide into opposing camps who view the teleportation technology either as an unprecedented opportunity for scientific research or a disastrous threat to national—if not planetary—security. In the middle of the maelstrom stands Sioux chairman James Walker. One thing is for certain: Questions about what the stargate means for humanity’s role in the galaxy cannot be ignored.

Especially since travel through the stargate isn’t necessarily only one way...


Night Owl Reviews Jan, 2016 5.00