An intelligent and gripping start to the ambitious space opera series…
Mackay’s wonderfully complex, captivating first installment in the series finds humans and aliens over their heads in deep space intrigue as they journey across stars to battle a forbidding enemy. The Lumenarians, an advanced extraterrestrial race, arrives at the present-day Earth seeking help in their fight against the Forsaken, a shadowy race that exists light year away in the Large Magellanic Cloud and is intent on destroying the former. When the Lumenarians’ offer to recruit humankind as soldiers threatens to take their loved ones away, Will, a damaged ex-special forces alcoholic, and Sara Li, one of Earth’s brightest minds, board Albatross, the spaceship, as volunteer soldiers under the command of Arthur, the enigmatic alien leader of the recruitment mission and commander of the flagship, embarking on a harrowing journey across stars to battle the vicious enemy. Equipped with new weaponry and biotechnology that give them devastating abilities, the volunteers from Earth are ready to face the menacing Forsaken, but fighting their inner demons is entirely another matter. Mackey has taken on an ambitious plot with an enormous, incredible setting for the series, but even more interesting is watching how he packs an outrageous amount of information in an accessible prose, making it easy for the non-science fiction readers to get hang of the complicated story. Mackay’s depth of imagination and skill with creating complex characters are in evidence in his construction of the taut plot. The characters’ (both humans and aliens) constant inner struggles form a major part of the plot theme, providing more opportunity for conflict in the story. Despite the plot’s ambitious scope, the novel’s reach doesn’t come at the expense of its psychological depth, and Mackay handles the intricate plot threads with aplomb. Watching the human protagonists fighting their inner demons as they train for the upcoming battle, and their interactions with their space allies, is both intriguing and amazing. Will’s growth from struggling alcoholic to legitimate leader makes him a worthy hero. Sara and Arthur are standouts. The novel’s pacing is brisk, and the shocking ending successfully resolves the major story lines while leaving plenty of unfinished business (with a mystery involving a enigmatic figure Mason) for the future installments. The huge cast of brilliantly portrayed characters, awesome interstellar settings, and spectacular technology make for an irresistible hard SF novel. This is a winner.
The Albatross: Contact
By Connor Mackay
Categories: Science Fiction