A masterful blend of horror, science fiction, and pulse-pounding thrills, the first book in Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s bestselling Orbs series introduces the last survivors of an alien invasion.
The year is 2061, and the planet is dying. Cataclysmic solar storms have forced leaders from around the world to finally put aside their differences and agree on one thing—to jump ship. The human race is headed to Mars.
Dr. Sophie Winston is hired by New Tech Corporation to test a biosphere deep within the heart of Cheyenne Mountain; a mission she believes will help prepare the company for the three-year flight to the red planet. But, just days into the assignment, things start to go wrong. When the blast doors hiss open, Winston’s team finds a changed world outside. Humans are gone, vanished without a trace, and they aren’t the only thing missing. The planet’s water is gone, too.
As the team explores their surroundings, they find thousands of luminous blue orbs lining the streets. It isn’t until they uncover what’s inside that they realize the nightmare that lies ahead. And what it means for our most important resource…
After a CME hits Earth, the storms caused start to kill Earth so New Tech Corporation is testing a biome in Cheyenne Mountain, ready for a relocation mission to Mars. The carefully chosen team are to be isolated and watched for 6 months to test habitat, capability of growing food, water conservation and taking care of animals in this controlled environment, which can then be replicated on Mars.
Leader of the team is Sophie, joined by former lover and biologist Emanuel, engineer Saafi, computer programmer Timothy, psychologist Holly and the biome AI Alexa. Sophie does not like that they have an AI in the biome and she shows little patience for Alexa. She wonders why Dr Hoffman's presentation seemed more rushed than she expected and if something else is going on. She is also annoyed at Timothy's childish attitude and tries to suppress her memory of sleeping with Emanuel during the solar storms when they feared they would die. Getting on with the job however, is Sophie's main concern and the first day is productive.
On day two, Sophie has a terrifying nightmare about an alien space ship chasing her on Mars and killing her, waking up in a panic. At the same time the frightened chickens have killed themselves and communications with the biome people monitoring them is cut off. Alexa confirms their fears and nobody is sure what to do. Sophie decides to continue with the experiment. Next to kill themselves are the goats and pigs and the volunteers are alarmed that Alexa also thinks that the solar storms may have returned outside. Sophie, Saafi and Emanuel decide that they must get answers and that means breaking containment and opening the blast doors to see what is happening. In a nearby bunker, three soldiers led by Ash Overton, are stuck inside. They see the group from the mountain leaving and decide to go out as well.
What Sophie is about to find is what she is having nightmares about. There is no solar storm but the people are all gone, placed and dying inside strange orbs left on the streets while the alien ships go around taking the water from the planet-and from any humans it finds. Now it is coming after Sophie's group and they have to find a way to evade it and get back into the relative safety of the biome. But even if they do get back inside, their supplies are limited and the aliens will find them sooner rather than later...
I came across this book after reading a zombie series by the author which I loved. I was a little wary of this as I'm not a big sci-fi reader and alien invasions aren't my favourite apocalypse plot but I decided to give it a try. I thought the actual plot was interesting with the biome experiment and the problems Earth was facing and it was interesting to watch them face the initial problems. I liked the fact that they had to venture outside where they see for themselves what they are up against and meet the soldiers. As things develop a second mission needs to take place which will be more dangerous than the first. These were good action sequences along with the inevitable attack on the biome by the aliens.
My problem came with a few of the characters. Sophie is in charge of things but everything has to be about her. When there is a mission, she has to be involved in it and running the show, leaving the rest of her team behind. I just felt that she was a bit too controlling and ready to abandon the others to do what she wanted to do. Maybe a bit of delegation? I never really felt like she was part of the team as she is a bit clinical and distant. I didn't hate her though, she just bugged me at times. My hatred is reserved for the horror that was named Timothy! They are barely inside the biome and he is kicking off like a spoiled little brat. He makes rude remarks, acts like a baby and tries to annoy everyone on the team, every minute of the mission. He is totally unstable and starts to scream, yell and rant every time something goes wrong which begs the question: how the hell did this guy pass the psych evaluations for such an important mission??? I'm also not a great fan of the kids taking a starring role but that is a personal thing because I hate kids!
I liked Emanuel who was a kind character who obviously cared a lot for Sophie and has boundless patience with her brushing him off. Holly was also a good person, who gets the brush off when she tries to do her work and talk to Sophie about the dreams. There is no doubt that my favourite character was Overton. He is the organised and capable military man without becoming a bad steriotype which is easy to do. I really feel that the author always writes great military characters in his books and this was no exception.
I've seen reviews talking about the science stuff being unrealistic and silly but I have no complaints on that score. I don't know a huge amount about science in general so I don't tend to analyse science bits in books too much. I tend to go by whether or not I understand the plot, which I did, and to how entertained by it I was. And I was entertained by it despite my character niggles. I feel that this is a decent book with some good ideas but I think compared to Extinction series, I found it a little slow in places and it didn't quite grab me in the same way. That actually says more about my reading tastes than any issue with the author himself. My dad really liked all three books!
If you like sci-fi plots, alien invasions and a less frenetic plot, you might well enjoy this series so give it a try.
Read June 2017.