By Robert Charles Wilson
First Published: 2003
US Jacket Illustrated by: Jim Burns
Review © 2009 by Stephen Roof
Genre: Science Fiction (Alien Contact), Thriller
Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson is a wonderfully intriguing science fiction novel with a brilliant premise. An advanced computer system with adaptive self programming has been able to improve the capabilities of a space based telescope array beyond all expectations. The system develops the capability to image not only a distant planet but even the individual alien inhabitants of the planet. In effect, we have gained a window into an alien civilization. Based on the speed of light, the window is looking 50 years into the past of the planet and no interaction is possible but the potential for learning is still incredible. The research facility located at Blind Lake grows into an isolated community of scientists studying our closest neighbors in space.
Everything seems to be going smoothly until, suddenly; the whole Blind Lake community and research facility is quarantined without warning or explanation. The community is cut off from the rest of the world and they don’t know why or for how long. The only thing they can do is continue working. In the meantime, the alien subject they are studying seems to be suddenly changing its behavior. Is it pure coincidence?
Robert Charles Wilson fills Blind Lake with well developed characters including key scientists, reporters, an arrogant executive, and a young girl who may be more capable of understanding what’s going on than the army of scientists. The only thing that did not quite work for me was the complete severing of all communications with the outside world. Otherwise, the rest of the story was terrific. The observations of alien life were fascinating, the mysteries were very thought provoking, and the ending was outstanding.For a science fiction novel with a little different take on an alien encounter, Blind Lake is highly recommended.