Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
Series: Confluence, #1
Published by Blue Bedlam Science Fiction
Publication Date: January 1st 1970
Genres: Science Fiction
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NASA discovered the alien ship lurking in the asteroid belt in the 1960s. They kept the Target under intense surveillance for decades, letting the public believe they were exploring the solar system, while they worked feverishly to refine the technology needed to reach it.
The ship itself remained silent, drifting.
Dr. Jane Holloway is content documenting nearly-extinct languages and had never contemplated becoming an astronaut. But when NASA recruits her to join a team of military scientists for an expedition to the Target, it’s an adventure she can’t refuse.
The ship isn’t vacant, as they presumed.
A disembodied voice rumbles inside Jane’s head, "You are home."
Jane fights the growing doubts of her colleagues as she attempts to decipher what the alien wants from her. As the derelict ship devolves into chaos and the crew gets cut off from their escape route, Jane must decide if she can trust the alien’s help to survive.
This was a free Prime Books download. The blurb caught my eye so I figured I’d give it a try. Sometimes Sci-Fi works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. While there were things I enjoyed about this book, the pacing was slow at times and I had a hard time staying focused.
In the 1960’s the government discovered an alien spaceship parked in an asteroid belt. Since it didn’t move and nothing happened with it, they determined it was abandoned. Though they continued to monitor it, exploring it was pushed down on the priority list. Now, 70-something years later, urgency has increased since an asteroid is headed straight for it. NASA realizes if they want to learn about alien tech, this may their last chance. They disguise it as a mission to Mars, and send a team to make contact with the ship.
Dr. Jane Halloway is one of the top linguists in the world. Her work translating dead languages brought her to the attention of NASA, who sent her along to help translate or communicate with any alien life they find aboard. Once they dock with the ship, Jane immediately connects telepathically with a being inside the ship. When part of the crew is separated from the rest, she has to decide if she’s going to trust the voice inside her head or if it’s really against them.
I really enjoyed the premise. The first few chapters where Jane and the crew reach the alien ship and begin exploring it were pretty fascinating. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what would happen.
Some things didn’t make sense to me. Ex: Depending on what they found on the ship, either Jane or Wallace would be in charge on the spaceship. But Jane had no military training, and she wasn’t an astronaut. For her to act as translator or interpreter made sense, but for her to be the commander of the group? That didn’t jive.
There’s a small romantic thread running through the novel, and honestly it detracted from the story. One of the other astronauts has a crush on Jane – which she seems to return – but the inner dialogue from that seemed out of place. He seemed more focused on her than she was on him, not to mention he acted like a whiny baby half the time. I think I’d have preferred if the romantic thread 1) didn’t exist or 2) was fleshed out more.
That said, the premise was intriguing and I enjoyed the action. While I think it could have been cleaned up a bit, I can’t deny the story was entertaining.
3.5 out of 5