Axiom’s End is her first novel. The story focuses on Cora Sabino, a college dropout in her twenties. Her father, Nils Ortega, abandoned her and the rest of their family to be a conspiracy theorist whistleblower. Before the start of the novel, he has released evidence of a cover-up that goes back decades: the government has been in contact with aliens that have landed on Earth. When a meteor crash-lands, she is targeted by the FBI and runs away, by a chance encounter becoming the spokesperson for one of the aliens, Ampersand, who arrived via another meteor some time ago.
One of the really interesting things about the novel is how it explores what our first contact with aliens might be like in reality. Which is to say, it’s not the noble endeavour presented in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Arrival. It’s a lot more chaotic and confusing, with nobody knowing the whole picture and various parties with various motivations clashing against each other.
Which leads to a discussion of the novel’s main theme: communication. At the beginning of the story, Cora has nobody she’s really able to communicate with: her father is absent, her mother treats her with hostility, and her aunt doesn’t listen to her. Ampersand provides her with the outlet she needs, despite him being an extraterrestrial. In turn, she does the same for him: she is his only way of communicating with the government employees who have been holding him and the other aliens captive, and their only way of communicating with him. There are important questions being raised here: To what extent is true communication possible? How do our agendas affect the way we communicate? Can there be dangers in communicating, and if so how do we navigate them?
I really enjoyed Axiom’s End. It’s an exciting novel that gives you a lot to think about. The way it uses science fiction tropes is interesting and creative, and the characters stay with you after it’s finished. The sequel, Truth of the Divine, comes out later this year, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Review by Charlie Alcock
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