by Rick Wilber
Cover Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765332905
Date: 08 November 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Skill and talent are important, but so is being in the right place at the right time. Former professional basketball player, Peter Holman, is trying to find a new job after his basketball career was ended by an injury. He got in early as a Sweeper. With a growing following, he needs to find new outlets and activities to entice more people to follow his Sweepcasts, and even more important to pay for them.
Sweepcasting is an intense form of virtual reality where users can experience the action and emotions of the sweeper from the safety of their own home. For the most part, Peter has stuck to athletics as his area, but he is branching out into a new class of action. He is set up on a date with an actress who wants to up her profile.
The date and other activities go well. During the course of a late night beach excursion, some strange lights appear over the Gulf. This is the first recorded view of the S'hudonni. They have advanced technology and appear only when they want to be seen. Nobody knows if the S'hudonni are benevolent or if they have a hidden agenda. Peter is drawn in as one of the few to have access to the aliens. More access than he suspects. But being high profile puts him and those he loves at risk.
His family has lived through some rough times. Each of the three children chose different routes in life. Peter went into sports. Tom focuses on science. Kait turned to drugs and a wild life. They haven't been close for various reasons, but the arrival of the aliens will bring them together and rip them apart. Alien Morning is the start of a new series, and as such is a good point of entrance for readers. The story unfolds from the first person perspective. This is fitting as the sweepers share their experiences with viewers. There are two main plots, the alien arrival plot and the dysfunctional family plot. Contact with the aliens causes reflection on the past revealing the underlying issues that some of the family isn't aware of.
I believe that the types of action that the main character records for viewing is material that many people would find entertaining. I believe that the author has done a nice job describing the economic difficulties of a startup technology. The early adapters have an advantage; similar to the early YouTube Vloggers, but they need to have something people want.
This is the second novel I have recently read which featured a form of advanced VR experiences. The other, Vicarious by Paula Stokes, was also very good. Both are also the start of a series. I look forward to seeing the development of the charactersí stories and hopefully the advancement of the use of the new technology.