Something Coming Through - Paul J. McAuley

First off, before I talk about the book itself, I have to say something about the cover. It's awful. Really, home-made with MS Paint Kindle book cover awful. I really expected more from Gollancz and it also doesn't tie in at all with the covers for this author's previous books (see 400 Billion Stars for an example).

 

Anyway, after that on to the book itself.

 

It's set in the near future, after two significant events have rocked the world - firstly, a series of small-scale nuclear attacks in major cities with all the devastation that involves, and then the arrival of aliens. The latter, a bunch of folks called the Jackaroo who nobody ever gets to see face to face, claim to want to help humanity survive and offer them the opportunity to colonise 15 new planets. These planets are connected to Earth by wormholes and can only be accessed via shuttles controlled by the Jackaroo, so while getting to and from those worlds is now easy(ish) it's completely on the Jackaroo's timetable. In addition, those planets are studded with artefacts from their previous inhabitants (with no explanation of why they're not inhabited any more) and those artefacts have an effect on people if they're exposed to them for too long.

 

Our protagonists, since it's mostly a two-handed story with alternating chapters till their storylines end up coming together, are a woman whose job it is to find people affected by those alien artefacts and a detective dealing with serious crime on one of the newly inhabited planets. There's a high bodycount among people inhabiting minor roles in this story, so if that's an issue for you then Something Coming Through is probably not going to be your thing.

 

I think the best way to talk about Paul McAuley's books, for me at least, is to say they're good but not great. I always seem to actually finish them, which isn't anything like guaranteed, but they never really stick with me for very long. I've read 5 of his books now and the most any of them has managed for me is 3 stars. This is apparently the first book of a duology (with a bit of not very subtle setting up for this at the end of this book), with various short stories also set in this universe, but I can't say that I'm desperate to read the next one given the size of my TBR pile.