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Sky Horizon by David Brin

Sky Horizon

by David Brin

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High school students discover an alien survivor from a crashed spaceship, and junior Mark Bamford decides the best course of action is to call the authorities and let them take care of the alien. Eventually the alien is able to contact his home, which leads to some unexpected consequences.

Brin uses a lot of ideas he has published in his non-fiction such as The Transparent Society here. A lot of those feel fairly clumsily inserted as discussions initiated by the history teacher who actually gets all of the students to think. A lot of the rest of the book is taken up with standard teenage relationship stuff. This is interesting as a somewhat different take on First Contact from the standard movie, but the story is still only average.
  sdobie | Aug 3, 2011 |
Sky Horizon really wants to be the first of a series of books from a collaboration between Brin and Jeff Carlson, although there are no hints of any follow-ups to date. Without giving too much of the story away, Sky Horizon is the story of 3 high schoolers at 29 Palms HS in California, near an air force base. There are rumors that some of the Math Geeks have a real live alien hidden in their basement. From there, Mark Bamford and his friends Alex and Barry must decide if they should save the alien from the not-so-tender mercies of the various high school cliques, and how. One the alien is safe, first contact happens, and some sort of award must be given for being such a decent species.

What makes the book so interesting the approach Brin takes to the question of first contact and any possible reward. Anyone familiar with Brin's work will know that he is fascinated with the possibilities, good and bad, that come with any contact between new intelligent species at very different levels of technology, as well as "coming of age" both as children becoming adults, and as a society or species in the greater universe.

In fact, early drafts of Sky Horizon were used to spark discussion of just those sorts of topics in school classrooms. The character of Mr. Clements, the wise, witty, friendly, guiding teacher of European History and First Contact, is, I suspect, Brin's own cameo in the story. He asks all the right questions to make the students think about all the possible consequences of contact, and provides sage advice without providing any actual answers.

As a young adult coming of age novel, Sky Horizon easily surpasses Connie Willis's D.A., released at about the same time from the same publisher. Admittedly, D.A. was a simple piece for a collection of stories in the style of the old "Space Cadet" T.V. show. But Sky Horizon shows just how much more can be done with pretty much the same starting material.

I'm definitely looking forward to the collaboration and the future of this series. ( )
  grizzly.anderson | Sep 1, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159606109X, Hardcover)

"Some of the Math Club nerds have got a real live alien! They're hiding it in a basement rec room." High School junior Mark Bamford didn't believe the silly rumor. For one thing, California homes don't have basements. Besides. A stranded alien? Such a cliche. A movie rip-off. Couldn't the math geeks think up a better hoax? Only... was it a hoax? What about all those black vans from the super-secret Cirrocco Corp cruising all over town, as if searching for something? Time to do some investigating of his own. Only, who could he turn to for help? The skateboarding "X" crowd? The varsity climbing team? When it it came right down to it, should he turn to the least likely ally of them all? Sky Horizon explores a possibility that has always fascinated, since the days of Homer -- that of strangers from beyond -- and gives it new shape under the deft hand of one of science fiction's modern masters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:24 -0400)

When Mark Bamford discovers that one of his classmates has an alien imprisoned in his basement, Mark contacts the government in order to free the alien, and in the process destroys his social life. When the alien's buddies show up to rescue him from the earthlings, they aren't very grateful, either.… (more)

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