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Local author quenches SciFi thirst with “THING: First Contact”

Locations: Columns, Opinion Published

This reviewer has been an avid reader of science fiction novels ever since discovering them in a small-town library in Illinois. Those books were “a ticket out of town” and transported the reader to different worlds, thereby broadening imagination and creating a literary thirst for more of the same. 

“THING First Contact” by author Kendall Williams is fully capable of quenching such a thirst. The book offers an authentic escape from the mundane. The reader is treated to a virtual excursion to other times and places, both in the remote past and future.

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Jason Hall, the principal character in the novel, lives with his grandparents in Aspen. He is fascinated with astronomy, which inspires him to build his own observatory on the roof of their home, and that is where Jason first observes what he believes to be a huge asteroid headed for our solar system.  However, when the “asteroid” parks itself in an orbit around the planet Jupiter, Jason realizes that the object is no regular asteroid. 

There is an alien on the “asteroid-spaceship,” and he makes telepathic contact with Jason. The alien, whose name is Arkan, is a pure energy being — he has no physical body, but he does have astounding plans for Jason. Those plans include transporting Jason 10,000 years into the past — during Earth’s Pleistocene Era — where he meets a woman named Lhen-na’. 

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Jason and Lhen-na’ survive a variety of harrowing experiences, including hungry wolves, vicious hyenas and enormous wooly mammoths. Eventually, however, Lhen-na’ joins a Pleistocene community and Arkan the alien returns Jason to his home in Colorado.

In the chapters that follow, Arkan’s vessel moves into orbit around Earth’s moon, producing mysterious changes on Earth. Many humans are suddenly afflicted by a mysterious disorder, a particularly nasty character attempts to murder Jason and Arkan the alien temporarily inhabits the body of an octopus in the Boston Aquarium, where he communicates telepathically with human visitors.

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When Jason’s relationship with the alien is revealed, Jason meets the president of the United States and becomes the president’s informal advisor on alien matters. Jason’s travels take him to Kenya, England, France, Ireland and Greece. 

Eventually, however, Arkan the alien assigns Jason a second mission and Jason is sent back to ancient Greece to find Plato, the Greek philosopher, who returns with Jason to the 21st Century. The book ends with a totally unexpected incident that this reviewer will not divulge.

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While enjoying the book overall, I found the author’s creative use of punctuation somewhat distracting. Additionally, a number of common words are misspelled in such a way as to make me wonder if the entire text of the novel might have been created with an audio transcription program that cannot recognize the difference between “rout” and “route.” Overall, the book would have benefitted from a closer edit. 

But, make no mistake, I enjoyed reading “THING First Contact,” and other readers will also find this book very entertaining. The book is a hefty 451 pages, but if you like the science fiction or fantasy genre, you will enjoy it. 

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Tags: #"THING: First Contact" #Kendall Williams #Recommended Reading #SciFi #Tom Mercer
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