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The Bridge    by Janine Ellen Young order for
by Janine Ellen Young
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2000 (2000)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Aliens across the cosmos want to make contact with Earthlings and end up wiping out billions instead. But it's not the sort of sickness brought about by direct contact as in the case of Europeans and Native Americans. The medium for this new plague is the message itself, genetic data sent across space in the aliens' version of our SETI (search for extra-terrestrial intelligence).

Young explores all sorts of ways such a catastrophe would alter the Earth, focusing on Manhattan, New York with forays to the Hindu spiritual center of Varanasi, India. And she does it with a well reasoned approach that takes in not only geopolitical changes but also the psychology of the new post-Pandemic generations and their evolving fashions.

Her title comes from the compulsion of the survivors of the plague, the Pans, to build a Bridge across the stars in order to respond to the aliens' desire to communicate with another intelligent race. But what sort of response will be made, friendly or vengeful? There are different factions on Earth, in particular the young gen-M's (many of them clones) who are against contact with the alien Kasarans.

The Bridge is a story with an intriguing and well developed premise and interesting characters who dance through a variety of relationships. But there's not a lot of tension to this tale. While it is good science fiction, for some reason it is not gripping.

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