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Damocles

por S. G. Redling

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1236221,551 (3.93)9
Loul Pell is a middle-class, midlevel government functionary, stranded in a dead-end job and resigned to the loss of his ambitious dreams. Meg Dupris is a traveler from a distant galaxy, haunted by tragedy and committed to a lifelong journey of discovery. Literally worlds apart, they are two unexpectedly kindred spirits, whose chance meeting will be the first step toward life-changing history: contact with an extraterrestrial race. Dispatched from Earth after being thrown into chaos by the prospect of human life nurtured on distant planets by an ancient alien race, Meg and her fellow explorers aboard the spaceship Damocles have found -- in the far-flung planet Didet and the strange civilization that has developed under its seven suns -- the proof that will forever alter humankind's role in the cosmos. But the efforts of both Earthers and the Dideto to forge a peaceful, productive bond may be doomed by two very human traits: mistrust and superstition.… (mais)
  1. 00
    Second Star por Dana Stabenow (imyril)
    imyril: Second Star is a traditional first contact novel whereas Damocles twists the concept, but both touch on the intricacies of trying to communicate without common ground and have good strong female lead characters (and a generally gender-neutral society).
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Blundered into this one by accident and couldn't be happier about it. Haven't found a new, good first contact book in a long time. ( )
  Malaraa | Apr 26, 2022 |



I found myself eager to get back to 'Damocles' each time that I put it down, not so much because it's a page-turner thriller (although there are some very tense moments) but because I was delighted by the way the story was told and I wanted to know more about the people and how they would work things out between them.

The basic premise is that, on a future Earth where space travel has been established for generations, evidence is discovered that extraterrestrials may have seeded human DNA throughout the universe. This leads to Damocles and its six-person crew being sent on a one-way expedition into deep space to uncover the truth. The crew encounter their first humanoid race when Damocles arrives at Didet, a planet bathed in the near-eternal daylight of seven suns.

This is a First Contact novel with a twist. Instead of watching how the people of Earth respond when an alien spacecraft appears, 'Damocles' looks at what happens when people from Earth arrive, unannounced, on a planet the inhabitants haven't made it out the gravity well and where even the idea of life on other planets is ridiculed. The tension is ratcheted up when a problem with Damocles forces the crew to land on Didet before they've had time to learn any of the local languages.

The story is told from two alternating points of view: Meg the Damocles linguist who has to bridge the gap between the crew and the people of Didet and Loul, a young Didet male who, seven years earlier, had presented a career-ending paper on how to prepare for aliens arriving on the planet, finds himself thrust into the centre of history-making events.

The dual-preselective story-telling worked very well. I particularly liked seeing Meg through Loul's eyes. He becomes fascinated by how different she and the other Earthers are both physically and culturally and in the process, lets the reader see humans as others might see us: as strange, wonderful and hard to understand.

My favourite parts of the book were when Loul and Meg are working together to try to build a common language. The process is both plausible and exciting. It made me think about how language works and how much communication between different language groups is powered by a hunger to know and enabled by patience, mental flexibility and a willingness to make mistakes.

'Damocles' is a people-centric book. It covers some of the big cultural, linguistic and technological topics but its focus is always on the personal, whether the person comes from Earth or Didet.

There are enough plot twists and challenges to sustain a level of tension throughout the book and to create some moments of high drama and personal trauma.

I ended the book knowing that I'd found a new author that I needed to read more of. S. G. Redling didn't write any more Science Fiction so my next book will be 'Flowertown' one of her thrillers. 
( )
  MikeFinnFiction | Feb 19, 2022 |
The crew of Damocles has given up life on Earth in order to explore other planets seeded with human DNA. A one-way expedition, they are not expected to return. When they find the planet Didet, they are forced to land due to problems with their space ship. Meg, the team's linguist, meets Loul Pell, who had previously written papers on how to survive invasion. This book had a very interesting premise. It was fun to read about the interactions among the species, particularly the discoveries they quickly made about one another. It did feel slow at times, mainly because of the language barrier. I would love to read a sequel. Overall, well worth picking up. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Jun 25, 2015 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this twist on first contact. The crew of the Damocles are hurtling through space in search of the origins of humanity; the novel is merely a single episode on what is set to be a longer journey (which may or may not be explored in other novels). Brought out of cryosleep after the ship's drones identify a planet with potential for intelligent life, the crew find themselves rushing to the surface when the ship's engines malfunction. Aware there is a advanced - and human - life, but ignorant of quite what to expect, they must navigate the intricacies of first contact with these far-distant cousins without the benefits of any common ground. This is a very simple, very focused novel, which I found very charming. ( )
  imyril | Mar 17, 2014 |
I’m sure I would not enjoy the experience of space exploration in a search for intelligent life, but I love the armchair travel experience of reading about it and this book is exceptionally well thought out and engrossing. When the people of Earth find evidence that human DNA may have been scattered far and wide throughout the universe, a handful of Earthlings undertake a journey through deep space hoping to make contact with humanoids who may be distant relatives. After a long time traveling in a suspended state the crew lands on the distant planet of Diodet, not without problems of course, and makes contact.

The Earth human narrator Meg is a linguist--not an engineer, pilot, or biologist--and since it’s her job to learn the language of the strange but still human resembling people they encounter readers have a front row seat for the excitement of first contact. Sharing narration duties with Meg is Loul, a young Dideto male who is called on by his government to advise them on the unfolding situation, even though his report on the possibility of space travel had caused him to be shunted away to a menial job years ago. It’s just as fascinating seeing Earth humans through his eyes as it is learning about the language, physical biology, and culture of the Dideto people with Meg.

Amazing as it is to find other humans, it’s not all smooth sailing. Crew tensions, Dideto politics, and the quirks and superstitions of deep space travel complicate and then threaten what is already a difficult, dangerous venture with the Earthlings (or Urfers as the Dideto call them) far away from their homes and loved ones in both space and time. To me this is science fiction at its best--expansive, thought provoking, and steeped in “what if’s” inspired by science, but also strong on characterization as it explores the possibilities of human connection. ( )
  Jaylia3 | Apr 16, 2013 |
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Loul Pell is a middle-class, midlevel government functionary, stranded in a dead-end job and resigned to the loss of his ambitious dreams. Meg Dupris is a traveler from a distant galaxy, haunted by tragedy and committed to a lifelong journey of discovery. Literally worlds apart, they are two unexpectedly kindred spirits, whose chance meeting will be the first step toward life-changing history: contact with an extraterrestrial race. Dispatched from Earth after being thrown into chaos by the prospect of human life nurtured on distant planets by an ancient alien race, Meg and her fellow explorers aboard the spaceship Damocles have found -- in the far-flung planet Didet and the strange civilization that has developed under its seven suns -- the proof that will forever alter humankind's role in the cosmos. But the efforts of both Earthers and the Dideto to forge a peaceful, productive bond may be doomed by two very human traits: mistrust and superstition.

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