This book, the first book in the Noumena Series, was published last year. It has slowly been gaining recommendations from the SF community, helped by the recent arrival of the second book, called Truth of the Divine. The first book stands on its own so well that I didn’t want to wait until I’d finished the second one.
Axiom’s End is in my favorite category of science fiction, those books like Martha Wells’ Murderbot books and Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series, that deal more with the lives of the characters than with the earth-shattering events happening around them. This book deals with alien contact rather than space travel, but its exploration of first contact through the lives and politics of both human and alien characters gives it a similar personal feel.
Cora is the estranged daughter of a well-known conspiracy theorist who has for years tried to expose the US government’s supposed cover-up of the capture and imprisonment of a small group of aliens. Few believe him, but Cora’s crack-pot, self-serving father is not entirely wrong. “Ampersand” is a powerful and unknowable alien whose arrival, thirty years after his fellows, sparks political controversy as the government tries to preserve its secrets. Cora and Ampersand must find common ground both linguistically and personally in order to survive the government’s misinformed attempts to shield the truth. It becomes increasingly obvious that the future of the human race also depends on their ability to understand each other.