Astronomy professor Aurora "Rory" Bell gets a message from space that seems to portend the arrival of extraterrestrial visitors. According to her calculations, whoever is coming will arrive in three months - on New Year's Day, to be exact..." "A crowded and poisoned Earth is moving toward the brink of the last world war - and is certainly unprepared to face invasion of any kind. But the more Rory investigates, the more she doubts the authenticity of the transmission. If the message is an elaborate hoax, who's behind it, and why? Now that the impending "visit" has taken on a media life of its own, no one cares anymore what Dr. Bell has to say about it. And so the world waits. But the questions remains as to what, exactly, everyone is waiting for.
Acclaimed Nebula and Hugo award-winner Haldeman delivers a disappointingly weak tale of the turmoil wrought by a message from outer space. Thin on plot, character and suspense, very little about this novel convinces, except details such as the prevalence of Spanish phrases in casual conversation and some techno gizmos. Clear as astronomy Prof. Rory Bell's name, the message "We're coming" is broadcast from only a 10th of a light-year away to mid-21st-century Earth. The message senders will arrive in three short months and will tolerate no attempt to block their "peaceful" landing. While Rory engages in political battles within her university and against the U.S. president's hawkish reaction to possible alien invasion, another, wider-scale battle among the European nations seems destined to launch WWIII. Meanwhile, a local mobster threatens to expose Rory's husband's illegal homosexuality, which would destroy both his and Rory's credibility. Unfortunately, relating the narrative by more than 20 different characters drains any tension from the story and results in disjointed, stalled storytelling. The concluding revelation about the aliens' nature and intentions, threadbare from overuse by other writers, arrives mercifully quickly. (Dec. 11) Forecast: Haldeman's widespread and well-deserved reputation for exciting and thoughtful work plus marketing to his core SF audience will put lots of books on shelves, but fans of the author and newcomers to his work will withhold the positive word of mouth that can help propel titles to major success. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.