By Jeffrey Carver
Because of a past injury, John’s ‘mental’ link to the ‘datanet’ has been cut leaving him vulnerable to silence-fugues. These fugues can and do jeopardize his job and his life. But when he stumbles across an alien life form deep in an ice cavern on the Neptune moon, Triton, he finds a connection that mimics the one he's lost. The bodiless quarx melds with his mind to inform John that its mission is to save the Earth and humanity…but it’s unsure what the danger is. A comet is the most likely answer. But the caveat is...John can tell no one. The quarx must remain hidden from other humans. John is torn between suspecting the alien of dangerous intentions to the Earth and needing the deep interior contact that prevents his silence-fugues.
The quarx, dubbed Charlie, has very little understanding of humans and has most of its somewhat meager knowledge from monitoring old television programs accidentally beamed into space. As it inhabits John’s mind, it learns but it doesn’t always comprehend. John, while trying to discover the source of danger to Earth, also has to educate the quarx about humans.
John also reaches out to Julie, an exo-archeologist, in a way that horrifies his alien co-inhabitant. Apparently Charlie, though he’s lived with many alien life forms through its eons of 'life', is xenophobic when it comes to its host’s intimate relations.
It’s been a long while since I’ve read a straight SF novel. While the plot in Neptune Crossing is straight forward, the book is dubbed as hard science fiction. I won’t argue semantics but I will say that I found it to be a fast, easy read. Yes, there is a lot of ‘technology’ but the author does not spend pages extolling its nuts and bolts as some Hard Science Fiction authors do. Instead, we get good human characterization that makes us empathize with John and Charlie. We want them to win, to save the day and to resolve all their problems.
All in all, it’s a very good read. I’m looking forward to the next in the series. Mr Carver will be stopping by to visit Star-Crossed Romance tomorrow. Be sure to stop by.