Fractal Noise

Tor. (Fractalverse, Bk. 2). May 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781250862488. $28.99. SF
This pulse-pounding science-fiction novel pits human curiosity and technology against alien tech deep in the cosmos. The story follows Alex Crichton, a xenobiologist whose ship, the Adamura, comes in contact with evidence of sophisticated alien intelligence when they discover a massive cylindrical hole cut into the surface of a faraway planet which is transmitting a message into space. The sonic force that the hole exerts on the plant is so massive that the ship can’t land safely. The crew decides to send a small away party to discover what they can, crossing the planet on foot. The majority of the novel describes this grueling trek, which, with its tents and sleds, reads as a story ripped from the pages of Antarctic exploration. The away mission does not go as planned, with equipment failures, unexpected encounters, and the growing threat that the ever-present “thud” from the alien machine will make them lose their grip on reality.
VERDICT Those daunted by the 800+ pages of the first in this series, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, will find this a comparably brief read, and it works well as an excellent starting point for the series as a whole.
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