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Fluency by Susanna Burney
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Fluency

by Susanna Burney

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Recently added byAbby_Goldsmith

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After reading many of the negative reviews here, it looks like people picked this up expecting cerebral Hard Sci-Fi, a la "Contact" or "Blindsight," and what they got was Hollywood action, a la "Sphere." Expectations were blown to smithereens. The science is glossed over and half-baked, while the focus is on sex and action--and psychology, although the exploration of that psychology may be on the shallow Hollywood side of things.

Personally, I liked "Sphere," and I liked "Fluency" for the same reasons. A group of humans are the first people to enter an unknown spaceship and make contact with something that affects them in strange ways. It may give them powers. It may kill them. It affects each person differently, and they need to figure out why. The people swiftly get tested to their psychological limits.

Maybe this ought to be classified as Sociological Sci-Fi. Whatever the classification, I read it within a day, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

To me, the worst quality of this story was an abrupt ending that left too much unaddressed. I love a great series, but I'm unsure where these characters are going, or what their goals are, and that's not good. This series doesn't seem to have a clear path. I'd feel more confident about it if The Swarm was more believable and well-defined ... but they're just cockroaches in space. All of the most advanced civilizations in the galaxy can't handle them. Um, really? Why the hell not? There's a flimsiness to this old trope. If "Fluency" offered some hint as to why The Swarm is so invincible, then I'd eagerly snatch up the next book. But right now, I feel as if too many ideas in this book were half-baked, and the rest of the series is likely to be the same way. Why would NASA scientists torture alien visitors with live dissection? Why would they keep alien contact a secret from the public? How could such a large government agency hide a major secret like that for 60 years? Why would they choose a trigger-happy gunman to lead a first contact team with possible alien contact? Wouldn't they do a more thorough psych eval? Why bring an armed militia into space? How can they keep the public from discovering that this team is visiting somewhere other than Mars? If the advanced aliens are so benign and gentle, why do they use capital punishment without a trial? Why do they use the same old military hierarchy? Why would the advanced alien civilization allow a situation where their pet navigator is stranded alone in space? If they were all linked telepathically, then what stops them from having mob rule and voting on everything? If the linguist is so sensitive to foreign cultures, then why the heck did she react with disgust and fury when the alien invaded her privacy? For someone whom we're told is tolerant, she seemed remarkably intolerant.

Due to those grievances, I never got fully immersed in the story. However, this was a very fun, light, and easy read, with a style reminiscent of Michael Crichton. I had a good time! The plot had several surprise twists which kept me smiling and turning pages. I may pick up the sequel, depending on reviews. ( )
  Abby_Goldsmith | Feb 10, 2016 |
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