Mankind’s first mission to the stars has arrived at its destination. The trip took 10 years and due to the relativistic speed, dozens of years have gone by on Earth when Captain Jack Harrison and his small crew arrive.
They quickly find out that they are not the first intelligent beings that inhabited the new star system. There is evidence of systematic destruction and extermination.
In their quest to figure out what happened, they quickly become stranded and cut off from their ship. The science mission to explore a new star system quickly turns into a battle for sheer survival against impossible odds.
Prelude to Extinction is actually a good story with a lot of potential, sprinkled with unexpected twists, some of them aided by cosmological concepts like time dilation and distortion. It’s a somewhat hard science fiction story that quickly jumps over the science.
For instance, all the aliens use engines that can accelerate to practically the speed of light in minutes without the crews feeling any acceleration by doing some “alien tech” stuff without any regard to where the energy is going to come from, and how the ships will be protected at these speeds in the relatively crowded spaces of stars systems. I know it’s fiction, but the mixture of hard science fiction in the near future, sprinkled with impossible technology of aliens millions of years ahead of us, just didn’t work very well for me. I also had trouble understanding that aliens so advanced seem to have nothing better to do than to try to exterminate any other species they come across, which is central to the plot.
But the worst of it is that the crew, the “best and brightest Earth has to offer” consistently act like boy scouts on a field trip at best. The captain constantly has trouble asserting his authority, and his crew of scientists keep making incredible blunders that just make no sense. By making all the human actors in the story morons, whose stupid actions eventually drive the plot along, the entire novel loses its sense of reality.
Prelude to Extinction is obviously a setup for a sequel. But the author really should hire an editor to fix the dozens, perhaps hundreds of typos and grammatical errors in this book, before writing another one.
I am passing on the next ones.