Jennifer Foehner Wells


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

June 4, 2016

he premise of Fluency is great - a big alien ship orbits dormantly in the asteroid belt. Earth knows the huge craft is lurking out there, but we haven't had the technology to reach it, until now. I also like that the heroine of this novel, Jane Holloway, is a linguist. That's an unusual profession, an unusual role for a heroine. NASA suspects that the ship may still be occupied, or at least have materials that only a trained linguist can hope to translate and understand.

The basic plot turned out to be pretty good, and the characters are solid. I was expecting something like an up-to-date version of Rendevous with Rama, but in hindsight, that is not a fair expectation. Rama is a classic, and Fluency turned out to be just a solid read. The giant ship failed to produced a sense of wonder in me, somehow exploring the derelict didn't elict either awe or terror. But this is (I believe) just a first novel, and for that, Wells has done a fine job.

One thing that disappointed me is telepathy - I don't believe it is plausible, it is essentially waving a magic wand to make the story work. Even if you could read the mind of another being, how would you understand their language or their thought process? Especially between different species, certainly how thoughts are processed are different for different types of creatures. I also was disappointed in the ending. Jane makes a decision that seems (to me) to clearly be a mistake.

If Wells writes another novel, I might check it out, she shows promise.