Have you ever wondered what life might be like if one morning you wake up to news reports saying that beings from another planet have arrived? If you have (I can’t be the only one) then you may enjoy M. D. Neu’s A New World series.
NineStar Press was kind enough to send me a copy of book one so I could read it in anticipation of book two, Conviction, which was is to be released into the wild on March 25, 2019.
The short blurb bit: Contact and Conviction are the first two installments in a science fiction series called A New World. Todd Landon is living a happy life with his husband, Jerry when things take a bizarre turn. Todd’s estranged brother, Brad shows up out of the blue one day to let them know that alien vessels are approaching earth. First contact with an alien species is about to happen.
The is a great ride through a sci-fi world of aliens, political intrigue and relationships.
The descriptive bit: In the first book of this series, Contact, the reader is introduced to Todd Landon and his partner, Jerry. They’re living a pretty normal silicon-valley life until one day, Todd’s brother shows up to tell them that aliens are coming. Naturally, Todd and Jerry find it difficult to believe that first contact is about to happen, but Todd knows his brother – in spite of their differences over the years (because Todd’s family didn’t approve of him being gay). In a very short period of time, all that Brad has predicted comes true and the US is faced with the daunting task of first contact with an alien race.
The other-worldly visitors are the Nentraee. They’re a humanoid race looking for a new world to call their home. As always, there are people on Earth who are threatened by things they don’t understand, and the initial meetings don’t go as well as planned.
As a member of a crack team of technology specialists, Todd finds himself meeting with the Nentraee. They meet, discuss technology and other human/Nentraee curiosities then head out late to the official function. One moment, Todd is driving to meet his husband at the meet and greet and then he’s fighting for his life after a terrorist attack. Without concern for himself, Todd protects the Nentraee at great personal cost, saving the life of Mi’ko. Days later when Todd awakens it’s to the devastating news that his husband, Jerry was killed in the attack meant to derail all the negotiations.
Mi’ko, the Vice-Speaker for the Nentraee, saved by Todd’s act of bravery is moved by such a selfless act. Despite his concern that humans may be too volatile a species, he chooses Todd to become Special Envoy for Terran Affairs.
The second book, Conviction, begins with Todd in his new position and battling all the backroom wheeling and dealing as the Nentraee and humans try to work out how their two civilizations can fit together.
The conspiracy to destroy the fragile alliance between the Nentraee and Earth continues and Todd is put in the unenviable position of trying to ensure the safety of the Nentraee and his family and friends. The conspiracy seems to be embedded all around Todd and he has to learn who he can trust and continue to be the person that the Nentraee feel he is.
To help with his position, Todd agrees to move on to one of the Nentraee ships. It’s overwhelming at first but he relies on his honesty and integrity to get him through uncomfortable situations.
There’s resistance to the Nentraee/human alliance from both sides and it’s a tangled web of deceit and political maneuvering.
General Gahummed of the Nentraee remains resistant to being involved with any humans, Vi-Narm seems neutral and Mi’Cin seems to be forward-thinking. But the Nentraee are difficult to read and Todd’s instincts leave him confused about their motivations.
The second novel ends with a dramatic turn and Todd, once again, having to stand up for what he believes in.
My thoughts bit: One of the things that I noticed about halfway through the second book in this series was that the language … the Nentraee words for things were slipping into my mind. Sometimes, I find a book with an alien language a bit cumbersome to read. Neu does a fantastic job of weaving in the Nentraee language and culture so seamlessly that by the end of Conviction I found I had absorbed a lot of it.
I also thought that the way Neu wrote about Todd’s grief was insightful. Throughout Conviction Todd is still mourning the loss of his husband, in fact, he sees Jerry and speaks to him during some of his most difficult times. As Todd and Mi’Cin become friends, Todd struggles with feeling a connection to someone else. He wrestles with feeling as though he is betraying his husband, moving on too soon and disrespecting their marriage. Of course, none of that is true, but it was wonderful to see a character so fully experience grief and the strange thought-patterns we go through when processing a tremendous loss.
The book contains an interesting exploration of the damage that homophobia can cause to a person’s sense of self. As Mi’Cin and Todd become closer, Todd’s past issues with his homophobic family return to haunt him. He wonders if Mi’ko feels negatively about Todd and Mi’Cin’s relationship. Sure, Todd’s family have taken significant steps to apologize and move forward, but it’s clear that their feelings in the past were damaging and affect how Todd feels about himself and his relationship.
I loved the intrigue and the clues that Neu wrote into Conviction. It’s a convoluted journey, and yet it’s enjoyable and intriguing! I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series.
The warnings bit: Mentions homophobia, some violence, hate speech.