Xenogeneic: First Contact
by Lance Erlick
Print Length: 300 pages
Publisher: Finlee Augare Books (March 8, 2017)
Genre: Sci Fi, Alien First Contact
My Rating: 3.75 of 5.0
Xenogeneic: First Contact is a science fiction thriller about first contact with an alien race that lost their civil war and wants to take over Earth.
Dr. Elena Pyetrov's father vanished in space 18 years ago while searching for extraterrestrial life. As an aerospace engineer, Elena travels into space to search for answers and continue his work. Her ship is pulled off course and crashes. She suspects extraterrestrial interference.
The alien Knoonk lost their civil war in a distant star system and fled to Earth's neighborhood to hide and regroup. They seek a new home--Earth. Unable to live in Earth's toxic environment, the aliens kidnap and use humans to genetically modify their species to adapt.
Surviving the crash, Elena and her shipmates are transported to a closed cave system where the Knoonk monitor and control everything. Elena tries to make a connection with her hosts and find ways to work together, but Knoonk leaders rebuff her and force the humans to submit as slaves. The aliens use illusions, distractions, and social experiments to learn from their hostages and keep them off balance. Resistance by captive humans brings swift punishment to break the human spirit.
While Elena continues to look for ways to cooperate with the Knoonk, it becomes apparent that there can be no compromise. The Knoonk want to capture Earth for their species. It is winner take all. With time running out, Elena must dig deep to uncover the alien plan and find a way to stop them before the human race faces enslavement and extinction.
Elena has spent her life preparing to follow her father into space. She’s broken off with her fiancé, Marc, a marine who seeks just a bit too much control over her decisions. Elena’s scheduled space trip is almost cancelled by political opposition. She gets surprising clearance at the last minute only to arrive on ship to find Marc and a few other rejected candidates have been swapped with the approved crew.
The shuttle never makes it to the moon landing but veers off course at a speed that has no explanation. The shuttle crashes on a planet that is supposed to be Europa – the original destination. Elena, Marc and another crew member find themselves healed of injuries and transported to a strange cave. As they explore the lush ‘paradise’ cave, Elena stumbles upon a home like her childhood home. There she is shocked to find her father and a thirteen-year-old, half sister, Thelma. Thelma appears to be autistic, speaking only in rhymes and suffering from seizures.
More of the shuttle crew and passengers begin to appear and some of them quickly exhibit disturbing behaviors. Elena learns that she and her shipmates have been imprisoned by an alien race, the Knooks. This race rewards the women, with supplies and survival, if they become pregnant. Numerous human groups have formed competitive clans. The men tend to attack other clans, killing the males and raiding for women. Elena fights against this primitive mentally, seeking a peaceable alliance and trying to negotiate with the Knooks.
Much of the middle of the book is spent on brutal clan battles and Elena’s attempts to learn the secrets, intentions and methods of the aliens. Elena does learn that the technology of the Knooks is superior to humans and that the female race plans to take over earth as soon as they can raise their mutated children.
The Knooks are basically all powerful and controlling. It is frustratingly unclear why they allow Elena to move about as freely as she does without punishment. The coyote images of Elena’s half Navaho heritage, are continually hinting that the situation is not all it appears to be. It is well into the book before it becomes clear that Elena is being used -- for some purpose or another.
The last 25% of the story finally moves forward with hopeful (rather than hopeless) action and some surprising twists. I am glad I chose to read to the end as it brings sense to the rest. The writing is a little choppy – as if written for a younger audience (as in the tech/text generation). The middle seems to bog in repetitive and almost hopeless scenes. The characters are not strongly endearing until the end. I do encourage pushing through to the action and suspense near the end, which I enjoyed. Fans of alien First Contact sci fi might want to give this a try.