Michael Gilmore, Captain of the HMSS Ark Royal is part of Earth’s first interstellar delegation to visit an alien planet. His passengers are an ill-tempered prince and an inscrutable quadruped alien. His First Officer is on the brink of mutiny, the ship’s A.I. seems to have turned renegade, and the neighbouring vessel harbours a genocidal maniac.
What should be an prestigious honor is turning into a treacherous journey whose true purpose has yet to be revealed by their mysterious alien hosts…
“One of the best first contact books in a long while – a gripping, logical, original and fundamentally optimistic retake on one of SF’s richest themes.” Alastair Reynolds
“Jeapes writes with a balanced pen, and nothing seems forced.” David Mathew, Interzone, May 1999
“As a thriller, gripping, as science fiction, fascinating. Cunning twists in the plot hurl the reader unexpectedly from one pupil-dilating crisis to another. Make sure you have time for this because once you have started you can’t stop.” Trapped in the Real World
“It is a testament to Jeapes’s skill that the hermaphrodite quadruped, Arm Wild, with its flaky skin and four nostrils, emerges as the most engaging character in the whole novel. But the most glorious conceit is the space station UK-1, last bolt-hole of the exiled House of Windsor, ruled by the entrepreneurial King Richard and his unlovely son, Prince James.” Jan Mark, TES, March 12 1999
“A veritable fount of plot, characterisation and intrigue, with some astoundingly original ideas, it is definitely worth continuing beyond the first few chapters. Scholastic, who publish the award-winning Philip Pullman, have hit on another winner with Ben Jeapes. If he can continue in this vein, he should be punching out bestsellers very soon.” Lijana Howe, SFX, June 1999
“Ben Jeapes’s first novel appears to read familiar ground but closer examination shows a refreshingly different approach to humanity’s reaction to first contact. … This is a near future where nations still regard each other suspiciously, where conflict is endemic and different cultures misunderstand each other even within the same nation. Plausible, in other words. The complex politics felt genuine, together with the shifting alliances of self-interest.” Vector