McIntosh is, without a doubt, one of the most underrated science fiction authors writing today. Defenders is an emotional, action-packed story with an extensive cast of characters — the most notable of whom is socially awkward CIA agent Oliver — who are tasked with saving the world, multiple times. McIntosh’s cautionary near-future tale, told from multiple perspectives, serves as a brutally honest portrayal of how humans carelessly exploit, destroy and — in this case — create other species.
In the midst of an alien invasion by the starfish-like telepathic Luyten, humanity is on the brink of extinction until the U.S. government recruits geneticists to develop a superhuman fleet of weapons — a new species known as the defenders. Bred with high intelligence and extraordinary military capabilities, but lacking the serotonin necessary to feel happiness and love, the defenders nearly wipe out the Luytens. But after the war is won, the defenders want to create their own society on Earth. As humans intervene, they learn that the creatures they consider heroes are capable of much more than they thought. (ORBIT, May, 512 pp., $16.00)