Review: "Alien Contact" edited by Marty Halpern

Alien Contact

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I recently had the good fortune to have an advance copy of the science fiction anthology Alien Contact pass into my hands. I'm always on the lookout for good reading and new authors to follow. Alien Contact is something of a veritable who's who of the current genre greats, with some names I'm not as familiar with in the mix as well.

With twenty-six short stories telling tales of man meeting with other intelligences, Marty Halpern has pulled together an anthology filled with hours of enjoyable reading.

I'll hit on a few of the highlights here.

One of my favorites is "The Road Not Taken" by Harry Turtledove. An extremely well told tale of the first meeting between two races, one more advanced than the other, and the unexpected outcome of that meeting.

Also very enjoyable was Orson Scott Card's entry in the book, "The Gold Bug" which is an interesting tale in his Ender’s Game universe placed between the end of "Game" and "Speaker For The Dead", parts of this story Card later adapted into portions of "Ender in Exile".

Very well written, yet quite disturbing is "I Am The Doorway" by Stephen King. As one would expect from this master of horror, "Doorway" is a darker take on the interaction between Man and Other.

"To Go Boldly" by Cory Doctorow is a bizarre Star Trek-esque romp, enjoyably parodying the genre while still giving you a fun tale of an advanced civilization meeting one more advanced and how that changes everything.

"Kin" by Bruce McAllister is well worth the read, telling the story of a young boy and his interaction with a lethal alien. I won't go into details here but much more is going on than meets the eye.

Nancy Kress puts forward for our enjoyment the somewhat disturbing but very well written "Laws Of Survival" telling the story of alien invasion after a global war, from the point of view of a survivor.

In the much shorter and lighter category is "MAXO Signals" by Charles Stross, a letter to the editor about recently received signals from distant worlds.

To finish up the anthology ends with "Last Contact" by Stephen Baxter, another tale about messages from other worlds and what they might mean, told against the backdrop of terrible news.

These are just some of the highlights, with other tales by such names as Neil Gaiman, Mike Resnick, Ursula Le Guin, Elizabeth Moon, Bruce Sterling and Robert Silverberg.

I would highly recommend this anthology to fans of good short form Science Fiction.

So please, give Alien Contact a look, I'm sure you will enjoy it.

Alien Contact edited by Marty Halpern
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Night Shade Books
ISBN-10: 1597802816
ISBN-13: 978-1597802819


  1. It sounds interesting. I'll check if there's a kindle version.

    To be honest, my interest is piqued mainly because last year I had a story included in a similar anthology. I'm sure this one is infinitely better than ours, but what I found was that most of the stories ended badly. Meaning, not much good came from that first, alien contact. Did you find a similar vein of thought in this anthology?

    • Actually that was one thing I liked about this anthology, these weren't all happy endings or all things go bad.

      There is a decent mix of upbeat and darker stories, as well as ones that just have you thinking.

      (and yes there is currently an edition in e-book format)