Book Reviews

Book Review: First Contact: Strings Attached by Paul J Nelson

This book was reviewed for the Online Bookclub


You can find its OLBC link here.


First Contact: Strings Attached by Nelson is a unique look at two very different, alike species making first contact with one another. I found it quite refreshing that neither species was human. The planets of Zeon and Arken are twin planets, revolving around one another as they journey around their sun.


Zeon is a pre-industrial planet that is just coming to work with steam energy. Their religious institutions insist that they are the center of everything, and there is no life elsewhere. Zalk, an astronomer, who helped create and perfect long-range telescopes, challenges these notions by suggesting they, and sister planet Arken, revolve around one another as they both go around their sun. Further, he had the audacity to suggest that Arken not only had life, but intelligent life. Needless to say, this news did not go over well and poor Zalk and his wife Elfa were ostracised for a time being.


Zalk finally regains a measure of honour and is allowed to return to academia. He decides to keep his head down and just work with his telescope. All goes well, until a nosy reporter, known behind her back as G3. Using insidious deception, G3 inveigles her way into Zalk’s trust. He lowers his guard enough to tell her he is a Sensitive; he sees images of detailed Arken landscape and ‘hears’ Sorrab, a man of Arken. He must still use his telescope as a trigger device.


As G3 begins a nasty campaign to ruin Zalk in order to raise her own fortunes, Zalk begins receiving messages from a Sorab to go across the sea and build a factory plant for harvesting elements the Arken need. Sorab manages to send money to Zalk, to help with the sea journey. However, Zalk begins to grow wary of this far distant person with their odd request. He must team up with his nemesis, G3, in order to uncover the truth behind Sorab.


First Contact is the first of a new series. It took me a bit to get into this story. It was worth it, in the end. It’s quite a good book Parts of the style threw me off at first. Much is narrative, rather than being dialogue driven. It works, though! Warning- there are places where unusual words are used, or else common words are used in an uncommon way. Example: periods for months. Hebdomadal for week. These are flagged in the story, and linked to an index, which is both nice, and takes the fun out of guessing by context. I’m looking forward to reading the next one.


Recommended, especially if you like unusual sci-fi. I would have to consider this metaphysical sci-fi.

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