People of the Sun, by Jason Parent

People of the Sun, by Jason Parent book coverGenre: Science Fiction
Publisher:  Sinister Grin Press
Published: 2017
Reviewer Rating: three stars
Reviewer: David L. Felts

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People of the Sun, by Jason Parent is a first contact book, with aliens landing on Earth. First contact stories come with a lot of built in tropes: how the world would react, how individual people would react, unforeseen consequences of dealing with an alien life form… they provide a broad but familiar canvass for authors to explore the human condition as well as the underpinning structures of society.

Many first contact stories draw aliens as a single stroke, in that they all seem to have the same motivations. From dealing with each other, it’s pretty obvious that any sort of individual intelligent creatures is going to have his or her–or its–individual motivations and personality. Parent makes a point of showing that, while aliens they may be, they are not all alike. This leads to the interesting circumstances of conflict not only between humans and aliens, but between aliens themselves. Which, I suppose, makes them more human than not.

Given the popular opinion of human nature, well-backed by evidence throughout history, we, both as individuals and as group, don’t do well when encountering those who are not part of the group. It’s not too much of a stretch to image humanity not being particularly accepting of alien intelligence considering how we treat each other. Parent does a good job of wandering down the well-worn path, while at the same time sprinkling in some realistic and thought provoking scenery.

This one is a bit of a genre mix-up as well, adding in some elements of horror and thriller. The result is a dark story, with that darkness more a statement about how we treat each other. But then again, good fiction can be more powerful than truth.

The characterization where was very well done, with the aliens each standing on their own, with individuals reactions, motivations, and goals. Individual humans received the same treatment, and, give the history of the human race, I think Parent can be forgiven for his somewhat generalized characterization of humanity.

I did have some challenges with some of the particular details. I found the whole water/alien somewhat ridiculous, as were the sudden and unexpected abilities the aliens suddenly acquired after landing on earth. I was unconvinced.

Overall a good read for fans of alien contact stories, and the addition of the horror and thriller elements, along with the larger story of how humanity (or at least humanity’s leaders) react, expand it’s appeal. Once you get past the somewhat rough and somewhat generic beginning, and the aforementioned sudden appearance of unexpected abilities, the novel comes into it’s own.

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