Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley

(8.5/10) Great stuff.

The Jackaroo has given humanity 15 worlds and the means to reach them. They're a chance to start over, but they're also littered with ruins and artifacts left by the Jackaroo's previous clients.

Miracles that could reverse the damage caused by war, climate change, and rising sea levels. Nightmares that could forever alter humanity - or even destroy it.
Chloe Millar works in London, mapping changes caused by imported scraps of alien technology. When she stumbles across a pair of orphaned kids possessed by an ancient ghost, she must decide whether to help them or to hand them over to the authorities. Authorities who believe that their visions point towards a new kind of danger.

And on one of the Jackaroo's gift-worlds, the murder of a man who has just arrived from Earth leads policeman Vic Gayle to a war between rival gangs over possession of a remote excavation site.

Something is coming through. Something linked to the visions of Chloe's orphans, and Vic Gayle's murder investigation. Something that will challenge the limits of the Jackaroo's benevolence...

The latest novel from multi award-winning author Paul McAuley, Something Coming Through is a thrilling turmoil of change as a struggling Earth, inward focusing and self-destructive, is saved from itself by a higher intelligence that gift the means to access 15 new worlds to humanity. Nobody knows anything about the Jackaroo - where they’re from, what they look like, or what they really want - but new worlds open up new opportunities to advance the human race’s technology and understanding of the universe: a difficult gift to refuse. It also opens up a whole new host of ways for people to get themselves addicted, kidnapped and killed, and when Chloe, an investigator of alien technology, stumbles across a new cult and drawings of a spired, alien landscape drawn obsessively by a young boy, she inadvertently gets sucked into the dealings of criminals on a distant planet.

It’s difficult to find fault with this book - there are a strong cast of characters, enigmatic aliens, a well-woven crime plot and an interesting focus on the fact that the gift of the new worlds led people to hope for new utopias and an escape from the problems of Earth, but in reality people will always be people with vastly different motivations and morals and when somebody finds some new technology, there’s no guarantee they’re going to use it for the benefit of mankind.

I find the idea of the Jackaroo and their associate aliens the !Cha really interesting and the concerns that are brought up by characters around how much their decisions are being manipulated by them. The Jackaroo maintain that their only desire is to watch what happens when a less advanced species is given access to a whole treasure trove of new things to discover, but are they truly as benevolent as they seem? What is the point? Are humans providing them with some form of entertainment in our struggles to understand artifacts from long-dead cultures? Are we being experimented on? We don’t know, and that gives the more human crime plot an uneasy edge as different players converge on an ancient ruin, led by some remnant of an alien intelligence trapped in a bead, whilst a massive dust storm closes in. Great stuff.

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Something Coming Through reader reviews

from UK

I really enjoyed this book. It's got a lot going for it in characterisation and plot driven suspense- you really want to know how it turns out. perhaps the crime drama got a bit wearisome at times- the tone got a little uneven - British cops talking and thinking in a an American style-but overall the intrigue has you from the off. Just who are the Jackaroo and how much have they muddled in our history??

8.3/10 from 2 reviews

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