Select one of the keywords
Steal Across the Sky    by Nancy Kress order for
Steal Across the Sky
by Nancy Kress
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2009 (2009)

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nancy Kress drives the first half of her story, Steal Across the Sky, forward with one big question mark. What monstrous crime are the Atoners - aliens who have come to Earth seeking (through the Internet) volunteers to observe human societies on faraway planets - atoning for?

We see two of the selected adventurers (who seem to have very little in common) - flamboyant Cam and grieving Lucca - as they make contact with human societies on two very different planets in the Kular System. They're monitored by another volunteer, Soledad, from space as they participate in 'the aliens' grand, remorseful, incomprehensible program to repent of long-ago sins against humanity, sins that humans themselves hadn't even known had been committed.'

Cam and Lucca find divergent societies on the two planets - one hostile and violent, the other peaceful and cooperative. And they discover another key discrepancy as well, though these emissaries carry back different interpretations of it to Earth once their missions are complete. Celebrities on their return, the Witnesses behave differently. Wealthy Lucca becomes a recluse, a confused Soledad changes her appearance and goes into hiding with government help, while Cam enjoys celebrity status on the lecture circuit.

The entire world tries to make sense of what all the Witnesses learned in space, and responses vary across the spectrum - from strengthened faith to suicide and even attempts to assassinate the space voyagers. Finally, some of the Witnesses take action on their own, attempting to complete the now silent aliens' seemingly halted program. But have the Atoners really finished with Earth?

Nancy Kress sets the context for her story very nicely with chapter introductions ranging from transcripts of witness interviews by the Atoners, to a song called Schlepping to the Stars and an intelligence briefing to the U.S. President. In Steal Across the Sky, she masterfully develops a unique premise to an inspiring conclusion.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more SF books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews