Canadian science fiction author and blogger Samantha August is swallowed up by a beam from a flying saucer in broad daylight. Footage of the incident goes viral, yet is quickly forgotten when an extraterrestrial force takes over planet Earth. The first phase of the alien master plan is to use force fields to push huge sectors of the population away from areas which are suffering from ecological damage caused by human activity. The involuntary movement of vast swathes of humanity away from these protected zones would be catastrophic on many levels, but the alien AI is able to foresee such problems. Indeed, the AI is all-powerful and it can detect when anyone is going to inflict violence and is able to stop them, plus it is able to disable all our weaponry. To avert famine it supplies food to the needy, and to further shake up our established governments and corporations it freely supplies plans to make pollution-free engines that will wipe out our need for oil.
Rather than dealing with the United Nations or heads of government, the AI has abducted Samantha so that she can become their intermediary. She becomes the central pivot of the book, having a continuing dialogue with the AI whilst we are introduced to how groups of people in different parts of the world are dealing with this out-of-this-world situation. These groups include the leaders of religions, an entrepreneurial space industrialist, a media tycoon, a Trumpesque president of the United States and other world leaders, a death squad commander in the Republic of Congo, a conspiracy blogger and a now-redundant arms dealer. Fortunately, a helpful list of the main characters is provided at the beginning of the book!
At first sight the invasion seems benign and could very much improve life on our planet for the whole of humanity rather than for the select few, but there are ominous signs that we are being manipulated to becoming slaves to the aliens' long term objectives. Erikson cleverly incorporates conspiracy theories and takes a multi-faceted look at the human condition from an outside perspective, yet some fo the characters prove to be rather dull servants to the intricate and well thought-out plot. Rejoice is an excellent text to prompt discussion about the implications of alien contact and how humanity has abused its ecosystem, but lacks in page-turning excitement.
REJOICE / AUTHOR: STEVEN ERIKSON / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: 18TH OCTOBER