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Old 01-01-2013, 11:13 PM   #1
Shadowplay
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Looking for "First Contact" books, not necessarily scifi :)

Hey everyone, I'm in the mood for a "first contact" or first-to-really-get-to-know kind of story. Now I know this has been talked about many times before, here and elsewhere on the net, so let me be a bit more specific.

I'm looking for something with a more personal thread to it. Instead of just our government dealing with some alien government, for example, it would be more interesting to see the experience from the point of view of someone who really gets to know the "others".

I said in the title this isn't necessarily science fiction, though I'm fine with that. What I mean is this same experience can be had in nearly any setting.

Example themes:
* Entirely unexpected first contact - could go horribly wrong, but somehow someone manages to make it work.
* Maybe each "side" must work together to serve some greater need.
* Could be first contact after a long period of no contact - maybe it's been thousands or years or something and at best only heavily warped legends remain.
* Could be "aliens" (science fiction) or some non-human beings, e.g. sentient dragons in a more fantasy setting.

I think what prompted this was having just read "Song in the Silence" by Elizabeth Kerner. It turned out to be a lot more "romance" in its style than I had expected, but I still found it really enjoyable. Deals with what is essentially first contact between humanity and dragons after many years and first true mutual understanding and trust in thousands of years.

Hopefully that made some sort of sense.
Thank you for any suggestions you have!
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:23 PM   #2
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Maybe not exactly what you're looking for but a very good novel in it's own right, Prototype by Brian Hodge.

''He's an immediate Code Blue when brought into the ER in Tempe, Arizona: a young drifter who wandered in from the desert, who was attacked for mundane reasons, and who broke his own hands on his attackers' faces and lacerated them with the jagged bones. He nearly has to be submerged in Thorazine to bring him under control. His name is Clay Palmer, and he's one of the rarest people on earth ... the carrier of a genetic mutation with frightening implications for humanity. With the time ticking on his self-control, Clay wages a desperate struggle to understand what has gone so wrong, with the help of psychologist Adrienne Rand and her anthropologist lover, Sarah. It's a struggle that takes them from the desert to the mountains, into the tribal subculture of Clay's friends, and on a cross-country odyssey through a frozen landscape corroded with industrial blight, toward the other claimant for Clay's soul: a man who has spent a lifetime spreading chaos and destruction in the world. A man who is more like him than not. A man who wants sons and daughters... Even if he has to breed them himself.''

It sounds more action packed than it is; it's a pretty soul-searching, and frankly sad, novel.

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Old 01-01-2013, 11:44 PM   #3
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First contact was Stanislaw Lem's bread and butter. However, it always turned out badly because of a complete inability to comprehend each other. If you're in the mood for pessimistic realism, try Solaris, The Invincible, Fiasco, His Master's Voice, Eden,... I loved each one, but I guess I'm bent that way. It's not what you're asking for, but if the shine ever leaves your romantic view of extraterrestrial contact, you'll know where to go.

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Old 01-01-2013, 11:52 PM   #4
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First contact was Stanislaw Lem's bread and butter. However, it always turned out badly because of a complete inability to comprehend each other. If you're in the mood for pessimistic realism, try Solaris, The Invincible, Fiasco, His Master's Voice, Eden,... I loved each one, but I guess I'm bent that way.
There are times when I really enjoy reading that sort of story. It's a little more negative than I'm looking for at the moment, though I'll keep the suggestions in mind for when the mood strikes me.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:55 PM   #5
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Maybe not exactly what you're looking for but a very good novel in it's own right, Prototype by Brian Hodge.
...
It sounds more action packed than it is; it's a pretty soul-searching, and frankly sad, novel.
Actually it sounds pretty interesting. I don't think it'll be my very next read, but I've added it to my list, thanks!
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:36 AM   #6
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The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It has two Navy starships discovering an alien civilization. From Amazon's review
Quote:
In the Mote the humans find an ancient civilization--at least one million years old--that has always been bottled up in their cloistered solar system for lack of a star drive. The Moties are welcoming and kind, yet rather evasive about certain aspects of their society. It seems the Moties have a dark problem, one they've been unable to solve in over a million years.
This isn't perhaps quite what you were looking for, but it is very good.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:20 AM   #7
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The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It has two Navy starships discovering an alien civilization.
This isn't perhaps quite what you were looking for, but it is very good.
Yes it is - I read that a few months ago.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:25 AM   #8
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Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Footfall

Harry Turtledove's Worldwar Series

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldwar

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Old 01-02-2013, 05:40 AM   #9
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Close Encounters of the Third Kind ?

Or is that too obvious ......
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:02 AM   #10
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Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Footfall
Good suggestion. I reread that last year and enjoyed it again.

I have just reread "In the Ocean of the Night" by Gregory Benford. It is about alien contact, but I wouldn't call it first contact. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Ocean_of_Night.

And of course, there is Damon Knight's "To Serve Man". Only a short, but it is about contact with an alien race and learning to understand each other.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:45 AM   #11
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C.J. Cherryh's FOREIGNER series sounds llike it'll meet the spec.
Arthur C. Clark's CHILDHOOD'S END.
David Brin's Five Galaxies series; SUNDIVER, etc.

And if TO SERVE MAN fits the bill, then so does Williamson's THE HUMANOIDS and Gordon Dickson's THE WAY OF THE PILGRIM.

SKYRIM too, if first contact with dragons is the goal, but that's a bit more... interactive... than your typical book.

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Old 01-02-2013, 07:31 AM   #12
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And of course, there is Damon Knight's "To Serve Man". Only a short, but it is about contact with an alien race and learning to understand each other.
And dinner.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:38 AM   #13
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Also Arthur C. Clarke's Rendevous with Rama.

Nor Crystal Tears by Alan Dean Foster. First Contact from the aliens point of view. This is a fun read.

A MAtter For Men by David Gerrold

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Old 01-02-2013, 10:25 AM   #14
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The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. First contact gone terribly wrong, with the best of intentions.

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Old 01-02-2013, 10:57 AM   #15
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Contact by Carl Sagan. A terrific novel. The movie starring Jodie Foster (also terrific) was based on it.
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