First contact is apparently a prequel to the In Her Name trilogy. I had never heard of Hicks’ work before. I downloaded the sample and started reading.
Humans on a starship with hyperspace travel capabilities on an exploratory mission find an inhabited world for the first time ever. Within minutes of arrival above the ecliptic plane of the star system, they notice that four massive space ships are approaching them at enormous speed. Unbeknownst to them, they have encountered a race of aliens that does not take any chances and meets all intruders with overwhelming force.
The humans debate whether they should stay or take off quickly. The behavior of the aliens, and their lack of response to any communications, indicates that they could be hostile. However, since the mission is to explore new worlds, the humans stay. Big mistake.
The aliens quickly incapacitate the ship and send a boarding party that penetrates the hull effortlessly. So far I buy all this and I am entertained, yet here is where my problems with this book begin:
The aliens turn out to be humanoid, about the same size of humans, bipedal, with heads, eyes, mouths, fangs – yes fangs, blue skin, hands with razor-sharp claws, and they fight with swords. Also, the humans notice immediately that the alien warriors are female, based on the chest plates, indicating breasts.
Give me a break! Humanoid, eyes, fangs, claws and BREASTS, implying they are mammalian?
These aliens are caricatures of space monsters, complete with werewolf fangs, breasts, feline eyes and raptor talons! They could destroy the ship with a single beam weapon. Yet they fight with swords, presumably it is their culture to “fight like warriors.” In the hand-to-hand on-board combat that ensues, a Chinese member of the crew successfully uses martial arts techniques on the aliens. Come on! Martial arts are designed to be effective against human bodies. Try martial arts on a dog, a horse or a tiger and see what happens. Then try it on an alien. It would not work.
I stopped reading when the sample ran out and I did not buy the book.
To the author’s credit, of course, this is a prequel to show how it all started in the war between the aliens and the humans that was covered by a space-opera-type trilogy. I imagine that the plot might be about aliens that can be understood by humans, so they have to be humanoid. Perhaps if I had read the trilogy, gotten used to Hicks’ world, I would not be so put off by the book, so it may deserve better.
I can state one thing for sure, however – reading the prequel first does not work in this case. It just rings silly.