A DARKLING SEA
Cambias’ underwater space exploration is a fun adventure, with multiple storylines following the elusive Ilmatarans, the humans trying to get a glimpse of this unseen race as well as the Sholen — another alien species trying to end the expedition. Cambias’ aliens are fascinating, and his commentary on the ethics of interstellar travel and the ultimate destructiveness of human nature gives the story depth. Added humor makes A Darkling Sea a quick, enjoyable read.
Deep beneath the surface of the water-saturated planet Ilmatar live a crustacean-like alien species who have never made contact with the world outside their own. When celebrity scientist Henri Kerlerec (think Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a much bigger ego) breaks protocol and sneaks out to film the Ilmatarans, he’s captured and sliced open — leaving the humans with a diplomatic mess on their hands. Two Sholen representatives — another alien species with whom humans previously made contact — intervene to bring the potentially damaging expedition to an end, but the humans are resisting and the Illmatarans have set out on an expedition of their own. Species collide, and the humans must decide if their pursuit of knowledge is worth the risk of war. (TOR, 352 pp., Feb., $25.99)