In the near future, an alien spaceship appears near Saturn. We follow an astronomer and a military commander as they try to learn about it and prepare for its arrival on Earth.
The first contact scenario is extremely interesting. The long time lag before the alien gets to Earth allows for the humans to work through various problems, this is primarily a novel about people not aliens. There is a surprise reveal at the end that ties everything together and points out that the flaw in assuming that aliens can be predicted on the basis of human behavior.
The characters are well drawn and the dialogue is well done. A lot of information is conveyed without feeling info-dumpy. The one strange thing is how the commander’s wife disappears from the story once he moves to Washington, it seemed that she was only introduced to establish that there would be no romantic relationship between our leads.
The politics in the book are sometimes absurd. The Russians are the first to realize its aliens, but they decide not to tell anyone for some unknown reason. Later, when the Chinese detect a change in trajectory, they send a note to the astronomer in a fortune cookie. Because they can’t hold press conferences and don’t have phones?
This book was written recently and the author clearly has strong feelings on recently circulating conspiracy theories. He takes a couple of pages in the book to explain why 5G does not cause COVID and ends with a speech on how conspiracy thinking will destroy human civilization. I’m not sure what I think about this. Its totally irrelevant to the plot, but it helps make the world more real and gets us out of the White House environs.