edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Larry Segriff



316pp/$5.99/July 1997

First Contact

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

One of the problems with many theme anthologies being published today is the inability of the authors writing for them to publish serious stories on the topics. Over the years many examinations of first contact have tried to look seriously at what humanity's reaction to aliens might be, whether in short story form (Murray Leinster's "First Contact") or novel length (Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End). Unfortunately, the majority of stories in Greenberg & Segriff's anthology First Contact, are light fare even when they examine the issue of first contact with a serious attitude.

Perhaps this is to be expected from a book whose cover blurb bills that the book is being published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Roswell, the Mecca for UFO and conspiracy theorists alike. In fact, although the stories may not be serious, they are, for the most part well-written. The anthology opens with Kristine Kathryn Rusch's story of a low-key alien invasion in a remote Oregonian coastal town, one of the more serious stories, although it only lightly touches on the issue of how a non-tabloid journalist, in this case a New York Times reporter, would deal with knowledge of aliens on earth.

Josepha Sherman's "A Game of Mehan" explains the existence of the pyramids. Although Sherman's Imhotep, vizier to Pharoah Djoser, is a relatively interesting and intelligent character, Azarak, the alien is so hopelessly inept, the story comes off as a simple demonstration of why humans are more intelligent than aliens. Gary Braunbeck's "Kite People" is only a borderline first contact story and tends to ramble, quite a feat for a 7-page short story. Dean Wesley Smith's entry seems almost to be more about the illicit thrills of looking up a neigbor's skirt than actually meeting aliens.

Unfortunately, with company like these, the good stories, such as Rusch's or Marc Bilgrey's "Random Acts" tend to get lost among the chaff. This is unfortunate because by the time the reader reaches these more serious stories, they have come to expect the light-hearted escapism of stories like Gordon Eklund's "Flying Objects (Unidentified)."

There is nothing wrong with writing light stories. Escapism certainly has its place. I would, perhaps suggest, that a steady diet of escapism, even a diet as short as 316 pages is a little too much at one time. Dip into anthologies like First Contact, but use them as punctuation for stories, both novels and short stories, which have a little more substance to them.

Linda P. Baker The Allure of Bone and Ice
Marc Bilgrey Random Acts
David Bischoff The Xaxrling of J. Arnold Boysenberry
Gary A. Braunbeck Kite People
Peter Crowther Palindromic
Julie E. Czerneda First Contact, Inc.,
John DeChancie The Seepage Factor
Barbara Delaplace Black Ops
Paul Delinger Absolution
Rosemary Edgehill We Have Met the Enemy
Gordon Eklund Objects Unidentified
Jack C. Haldemann II If Pigs Could Fly
Nina Kiriki Hoffman Heavenly Host
Jane Lindskold Small Heroes
Jody Lynn Nye Take Me To Your Leader
Barbara Paul Earth Surrenders
Kristine Kathryn Rusch Fit to Print
Josepha Sherman A Game of Mehen
Nina Kiriki Hoffman Heavenly Host
Dean Wesley Smith Ambassador to the Promised Land

Purchase this book from Amazon Books

Return to

Thanks to
SF Site
for webspace.