Literature: First Contact Is Bad for You
"Iím not a bear, gotterdammit! Iím justÖerm... phenotypically disadvantaged!"
— Ted DeckerFirst Contact Is Bad For You is a novel by Gabe Kagan published in 2011, where an unfortunate alien species is on the receiving end of humanity's first contact. Self-explanatory, right?In 2048, humanity accidentally discovers a wormhole in orbit around earth leading to an alien planet. Two citizens, Bob Sakamoto and Ted Decker go through before any government or corporate spaceflight agency can organize a mission. Needless to say, they aren't ready for what happens next. In the ensuing months, Earth scrambles to take advantage of the planet (which is named Groenheid), ultimately destabilizing the native societies. When the wormhole used for travel seals up, things stretch to the breaking point; Bob and Decker find themselves trapped inside a bloody regional war.Incidentally, one of the selling points is that Decker is a talking bear.As of December 2013, the sequel (Second Contact Is Worse) has been written and is awaiting publication.
This book provides examples of:
- Benevolent Precursors: Not discussed in great depth, but implied to be responsible for the existence of Cromlech, the robot discovered on Groenheid. Cromlech is found to be friendly and cooperative, and is integral to the repair of the Earth-Groenheid wormhole.
- Frozen Face: Sega Nintendo Johnson (whom Bob and Decker hire for the Groenheid mission) never stops smiling, and claims to always be happy. However, he almost stops for a moment, when the Earth-Groenheid wormhole seals up.
- Funny Animal: Decker, who claims to be a human whose brain was originally placed in a stuffed bear. Then the military experimented on him and tweaked his design.
- Genre Savvy: The main characters occasionally reference real-life science fiction stories in their conversations. For example, Sega asks Bob and Decker not to make any 2001 references as they go through the Earth-Groenheid wormhole.
- Iron Lady: Mrs. Nesbitt, one of Bob and Decker's colleagues on Groenheid. Her husband, Tiberius is a governor, but she makes the important decisions for him, especially in Earth-related affairs. Subverted and lampshaded early on, where she briefly tries pretending to be a bubbly airhead.
- Physics Plus: The main example being the wormhole between Earth and Epsilon Eridani, later revealed to be part of a larger network of wormholes created by unknown forces. They're also responsible for some of the ruins on Groenheid, as well as Cromlech. Otherwise, technology isn't significantly advanced from the real world in 2011.
- Puppet King: Tiberius Nesbitt is the governor of the country of Rudlacku (later named Ted because the protagonists think it's a stupid name), but his wife Lucia has far more influence, partially due to being one of the first to meet Bob and Decker.
- Schizo Tech: First played for humor when Bob Sakamoto creates a laser rifle out of antiquated materials. Later played for drama when the weapons turn out to still be much deadlier than anything Groenheid has manufactured, contributing to bloody warfare.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Computers are faster than in the present, and the average citizen makes better use of them. Humanity has access to mass transit helicopters, fission powered spacecraft, and a small colony on the moon. Cybernetics and robotics are also relatively advanced; Bob Sakamoto was a cybernetics salesman prior to the events of the book.