An odd comet is visible through telescopes and scientist Neal Danielson is intrigued. His calculated predictions of how the comet will break up turn out correct. However, there are pieces that enter the atmosphere, each one crashing into an ocean at different points around the globe. With a small covert US government team, they try to locate one of these objects. Their efforts start a chain of events that is just the beginning in what may very well be the endgame for humanity.
This is going to be one of my favorite books of the year, I can just tell. Even though this book comes in at just over a nice hefty 20 hours listening time, it did not feel like that. I was sucked in early and caught up in the plot and the characters. It was hard to put this book away in order to tend to real life. Fear the Sky is an excellent mix of military fiction, hard scifi, artificial intelligence, and invading aliens.
An alien race is hunting for new planets to colonize and Earth is one of the closest viable planets. The aliens have planned long and hard and have pretty advanced tech. They monitored us and came up with a pretty darn good plan. Us humans should tremble at this plan. They sent an advance team to infiltrate the top military organizations of the planet so that they would have some control once the battle ships arrived. After all, they don’t want things too messy – they want to live here (without humans) instead of having the surface of the planet destroyed in world-wide battle.
The advance alien team consists of a small group of very advanced AIs. These guys are pretty scary. They carry disguised, built-in weapons and have incredible strength and speed. They know all about us and we know nothing about them. They each have a personality overlay that allows them to mimic any emotion. They come off as pretty friendly. In some regards, they reminded me a bit of the cylons in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series (a show I thoroughly enjoyed). My favorite characters among these AIs were John Hunt, Lana Wilson, and Shaheem. Granted, we get to see more of them than of the other AIs, but I still enjoyed loving or hating them. Since they are sprinkled around the globe, we have several nationalities represented, which was great. I love multi-ethnic fiction. Through one of them, we learn a little about the alien culture. I would have enjoyed more of this but what we got was pretty intriguing. At the end of this book, the aliens are no longer some faceless monstrous enemy – we know in general what they look like, their motivations, and their power structure.
The human characters are no slouches either. Neal is one of the first to follow his curiosity, but he is not the last. Pretty soon we have a rather eclectic group of military personnel and scientists trying to figure out what these oddities mean and then trying to give humanity a fighting chance. Dr. Lori West contributes her expertise in an attempt to counteract a possible biothreat. Ayala, a Mossad counter-intelligence agent, provides all sorts of equipment, contacts, and useful advice to the group. Others are involved but these three stuck out the most to me. They have to work in secret as to avoid tipping their hand to the AIs so there is plenty of sneaking about and wonderful tension to the plot.
The ladies in this book are very well written. Each one is different and totally believable in her personality. I have been reading scifi my whole life and we need more stories like this where the both male and female characters contribute to the plot and are realistically gifted and flawed. My hat’s off to author on this point. He got it right and it makes the story that much more awesome.
The fancy tech, both of Earth’s military forces and of the advance team, is great. I do love me some fancy tech! I don’t keep up with military tech, but it all sounded believable and good to me. The AI tech was freaking awesome! There’s also some biotech Dr. West gets to work with that my inner biologist would love to get my hands on. The advanced technology was one of the main driving points of the plot; it wasn’t simply tucked in here and there as window dressing. Earth faces a vastly superior opponent and we need to advance our tech on many fronts in order to have a fighting chance. I loved this aspect to the book.
This was my first Stephen Moss book but will not be my last. This book wrapped up the first big hurdle and I was satisfied with how things were left. Yet there is still plenty to explore in the rest of the series. I greatly look forward to the rest of the series becoming available as audiobooks.
Narration: R. C. Bray did a fantastic job. He had plenty of accents from around the world to perform, and he did them all believably. He also had plenty of female characters which he did quite well – each was distinct and believably female. I really liked his voice for John Hunt and his voice for Ayala.