The Gift by Dave Donovan

Roughly around the half way point, I stopped the Audible version in disgust. There was just so much cliche and flat characterizations trying desperately to support a simplistic first contact sci fi. Everyone talked liked computers simulating a person; ironically, the aliens sounded too much like a person. But it was the over-the-top “military are eeeeeevil” messages that really had me rolling my eyes. I’m not a martial person and am hardly jingoistic – but the repeated bludgeoning of the “military screw everything up because they are stupid and utterly dogmatic” points became tiresome. There was so much telling instead of showing (he said, she said, he said, he did, she did…..) that the writing became a chore to follow.

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Story: An alien sphere is heading toward the Earth – and the only person who figured out what it is doing is a computer dude. The military chief in charge of the project makes a bunch of stupid decisions based upon personal prejudice and whether something will make him look bad. Despite military dude throwing out computer dude from the program (even though computer dude was the only one to figure out the sphere), the sphere later (randomly) decides to merge with computer dude and tell him the hive mind are coming. Here are some gifts, humans, use them well or be annihilated.

The story greatly felt like it was written by a computer science guy and not a writer. The pacing, characters, and plot were flat as a board. I had a hard time telling anyone apart except for the military guys – they were universally stupid and self absorbed. Reactions and actions were lacking nuances and everything was simplistic to the point of being unbelievable. Giving the military guy an “aw shucks” down south American accent really threw this over the top of silly and stereotpyical. Really oddly, the book felt like it was written by a computer and not a person.

When the aliens started talking with our protagonist, I had had enough. It was all so clinical from the human side and overly emotional and touchy feely from the aliens. If this was a better writer, I could suppose the aliens were meant to show our supposedly scarred (but really just boring) main character how to be more emotional. But I think at that point, I was siding with the big evil hive mind that the humans should be wiped out.

I listened to the Audible version and the narrator did an ok job.

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