The Orion Plan
By Mark Alpert
H.G. Wells imagined alien invaders of a large, ugly variety felled by microscopic Earth creatures. Mark Alpert imagines alien invaders of another sort altogether and mixes in a healthy dose of purpose-based ambiguity. This will make more sense when you get to the end of well-paced, alway intriguing, and scientifically informed and informative thriller. Alpert is very good at balancing science and thrills, so readers enjoy a bit of an education and never a dull moment.
Dr. Sarah Pooley, who once early in her career offered up the idea that life existed on Mars only to be swatted down and around by the scientific community, spots an abnormally fast moving meteor that doesn’t behave as it should. She suspects more than an ordinary object is headed to Earth. When she arrives in New York City where its trajectory indicates it will land, she finds the U.S. government and the military there already, also suspecting there’s more going on then meets the eye. She, an independent and feisty scientist, goes in search of the object on her own.
That object lands in Inwood Hill Park, located on the northern most tip of Manhattan. There it infects three people. It enlists these three in its mission of making contact with the powers that be, though ultimately its mission involves overrunning the world with its species. Coming to understand who these invaders are, what their world was like, how they view Earth people, and what they will do to the world we know to accomplish their purpose comprise the driving force of the novel. These are the novel’s strengths and the reason to read it.
However, the novel lacks real flesh and blood human characters, though Alpert does his best to infuse them with humanity. Unfortunately, they come off as cardboard copies of people. But if you love alien tales and thrills, this should not deter you. After all, one of the best, Arthur C. Clarke, was never much for character development, but he intrigued nonetheless. Alpert is in that tradition. w/c