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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bloodright by William Greenleaf

Bloodright by William Greenleaf
Publisher: Mundania Press
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: Full Length (247 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rated: 4 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

When a brilliant point of light appears in the southern sky, Nathan Oakes is finishing his early-morning run in Central Park, Kathy Stratton is preparing to give a speech in San Francisco, Nikki Jamison is dreaming peacefully in her home near Phoenix, and Oscar Villalobos is grappling with the guilt that fuels his nightmares. None are yet aware of how much that strange light in the sky will change their lives.

By the time it begins sending a digital signal, however, Kathy Stratton, science advisor to the president, knows that a turning point in the human story has been reached. Aliens have made contact.

Soon after they land on a rural stretch of road west of Phoenix, Nikki Jamison and Oscar Villalobos slip unnoticed into the tiny red spaceship and learn the hard way that Zeke and Simon aren’t the friendly back-slappers they pretend to be. Trapped in a weird, impossibly vast labyrinth inside the ship, knowing their chances for survival are slim, Nikki and Oscar discover the truth about the aliens. They also learn about the complex network of interaction between sentient species throughout the universe, and the elegantly simple system of law that holds it all together—and they learn that a partnership with Zeke and Simon will not bring riches to the human race. Instead, it will bring extinction.

William Greenleaf’s novel, Bloodright is riveting, eerie, and fantastical. It is also engaging. The characters struggle with circumstances that are both familiar and but also alien (both to them and us). The contact from aliens seems unreal enough – without adding in the shocking appearance of the creatures.

In her official capacity, we first follow Kathy Stratton at the White House. Surprise, shock and denial, Mr. Greenleaf offers us an array of completely believable emotions. And Kathy must be the logical, level head that plows forward through bureaucratic disbelief. While she pursues issues of communications and response and the meaning behind all this, other characters are able to indulge their curiosity, and the author skillfully engages our curiosity as well.

“Just before dawn, the seemingly random flashes of varying lengths stopped...and for a moment Nikki’s breathing stopped, too. But after a brief pause, another series started. This one was different. For one thing, it was composed entirely of long and short flashes, with none of the varying lengths in between.”

Nathan initially offers us that more adult perspective… meanwhile, the occasional glimpses of ‘reality’ come from a distinctly different perspective. Through Lori’s experiences, we sense a whole different feeling – not of curiosity, but horror. At first, the Ecthroes seem no more than envoys: shocking in their very existence, and the more so for their purposeful contact, but well intentioned.

And: we want to believe! Yet, the truth about them – and about other races – will only gradually be discovered. Our sense of them is pulled one way, and then another by the clever Greeleaf, but our suspicion builds throughout. We discover that aliens, like people, are not all the same.

Space technology, spaceships, extraterrestrials, a digital signal from outer space: yes, the initial set-up of the story is somewhat derivative, but the characters themselves and fresh and independent. This is worth reading, and events are, on the whole, unpredictable.