Suppose We by Geoff Nelder
By Natasja Hellenthal
When a ship crash-lands on a faraway planet the crew needs local help. Unfortunately, the natives are a million years ahead of us. Ignored, the crew has to find a way to get attention.
Bringing back a sense of discovery and wonder to science fiction.
‘Suppose We’ is a First Contact Sci-Fi novel published in 2019. It’s focused around four people who have been travelling in a spaceship from Earth to a new world set in the Kepler 20 system. The planetary system by the way does exist in the Milky Way between Cynus and Lyra. The planet the story sets on has yet to be discovered so that part is imagined, but in a very realistic way. How it is described, one can easily imagine a planet like Kepler-20h, though it’s very unlike Earth! It’s a ‘What if’ story which I like as it explores the imagination based on real science and research very much so as the Star Trek series do, which I’m a huge fan of. The best episodes for me are always the ones about the away teams getting stranded on a strange new planet and learning all about its strange flora and fauna. This story reads like one of those episodes at first but goes into much more detail.
Our four main protagonists have been in hibernating for a thousand years before they crash land on the new planet. Their mission is to seek and investigate habitable planets for the people of Earth to go and live on in the future and send a report back to Spaceweb, which I imagine is a sort of futuristic NASA online, or to the other ships. Little do they know there is also a secret mission. Only their AI called CAN holds that last message and secret package.
The main character is Gaston, a French exo-linguist and exo-biologist, who wakes up first. There is Commander Penn and Delta and Em, all carefully chosen for their set of skills. Their technology has evolved, but that is about it. People are still people, and the relationship between Delta and Penn was a little odd. I liked Gaston best, he is likable and convincing the way he was described, throwing in French words and getting lost in his head, thinking, missing the first few words people say, or the last. Also, his interest in the local flora and fauna, his non-violence approach, and the way he befriends a butterfly. But is it really a butterfly? When the team get separated from their spaceship, the Suppose We, they try to re-establish contact, but not before exploring the planet, trying to make first contact with the alien species and getting into a whole lot of trouble.
The sceneries are beautifully painted with lilac or emerald skies, tree bark soft like cucumber, and dome-shaped buildings that change colour. One can even smell the ozone in some scenes or the flower scents in another. And then, how to make contact with the suspected dominating species on the planet, the Kelps, since they pretty much ignore the humans. And what are those bird-like creatures in the forest always appearing in threes?
I enjoyed reading this book tremendously and it definitely was a page-turner for me as I wanted to know more. This is a well-written book by a competent author who has done his research into the subjects he writes about. I am looking forward to reading book 2!
I would recommend this book to seasoned sci-fi readers though as the terminology used is on the high-tech science side and not always explained, but perhaps that was the lure.
Or maybe you’ve already read this book? What did you think?
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