Review by David Watkins - Jan 23, 2015
A Thought Provoking Adventure - Friendly Invasion is a futuristic telling of Earth's first encounters with intragalactic aliens. The story takes off with a brief prologue at a space transport dock. Here we meet Amrit, a pararnar and Nubeline, a widrix, amongst a crowd of zini. Their civilization is very much older than ours. They constructed a counterplanet in our solar system long before civilization emerged on our planet. It has natural habitats based on Earth biology. The counterplanets (Z4 and Z6) are basically self contained living environments and of necessity well controlled. One can sit in fixed orbit
for thousands of years or travel vast distances through the galaxy.
My immersion in science fiction occurred in about 1960, the year I joined the Air Force. I signed up for the Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club. In 1959 the Soviet's had landed a spacecraft on the moon. On July 20, 1969 I watched the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey at a drive-in theater in Wichita, Kansas. Today the Soviet Union is gone, 2001 is over a dozen years gone by and when are we going to colonize space? The dream, back then, was that living in space would become common. In 1976 Gerard K. O'Neill, in his book, The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space set in my mind, with its illustrations, what our future space colonies might look like. Friendly Invasion, though it does not have illustrations of the counterplanets, reset my mental imagery for what life in space might evolve into. Turner's description of life in a counterplanet pictures a habitat
that has evolved millions of years beyond the stage of space colonies.
The adventure begins in Washington DC. The discovery of an advanced civilization living in our galaxy had been a shock and now there is controversy regarding how we should respond. Work is already well under way in the construction of a new and smaller counterplanet for Earth. Despite the apparent benevolence of that project there are suspicions. The "Joint Intelligence Command" wants to get a person on the project, but alien security is run by Nubeline, a widrix with an enhanced capacity for radiant empathy. To get past Nubeline they find candidates with multiple personality disorders (Dissociative Identity Disorder). This plot line runs in the background through the course
of the novel and involves several of the story's primary characters.
The zini left their frozen planet millions of years ago. Theirs is a very evolved civilization. Throughout this book we get to sample what such a civilization might be like, a feel for life in a counterplanet. The term "spaceship earth" has been employed by Barbara Ward, Buckminster Fuller, and Kenneth Boulding to discuss the relatively closed nature of our Earth system. The limitation of resources and need to protect the habitat from harmful wastes is more obvious in a counterplanet than on a planet. Zini technology and culture have passed the test of sustainability and have created a galactic civilization of counterplanet spaceships
that can cruise the galaxy comfortably at ten thousand miles a second.
This book is filled with intrigue. Two of the primary characters use encryption because they know their conversations are being monitored. There is a question of whether the attack on the counterplanet was an accident or intentional. As readers we know what happened and that a coverup has been built into the operation. There is an amazing caper in the White House involving a bird and a zini device that sounds like an advanced
drone. And the next day, the first intergalactic event at the UN.
When we meet the pararnar Amrit in the prologue we learn, "Among the Pararnari, a last farewell is a tangible interlocking of dream fields." He leaves on a mission with no return. He is the chosen one, foretold on his hatching day. We can consider Amrit a space bard,
his songs can comfort and heal or can be a key component in diplomacy.
In his acknowledgments Turner lists several scientists whose leading edge work he has used in the creation of alien scientific theories. Throughout the book there are involved explanations regarding zini technology, Uspa military and governance, the function of pararnar dream fields, widrix empathic capacity, and much more. Part of what I look for in a science fiction story is a plausible future. The world I found in Friendly Invasion appealed to the futurist in me in my and supports my optimism regarding the potential of our species.
It also provides us with three examples of how other species could be.
Most of all I found Friendly Invasion to be a fun, suspenseful, and informative read. I found the characters complex and believable, including the aliens. There is a nice mix of scene setting, character
development and action, balanced with humor, emotion and wisdom.
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