It’s September of the year 2007. The first iteration of the iPhone was released only a few months ago, and a handful of disagreeable Wallstreet guys stand to make a fortune against the collapse of the housing bubble that hasn’t yet happened. 2007 is also the year of First Contact with aliens.
Axiom’s End is an alternate history story. The first act begins with First Contact. We follow an unlucky Cora Sobino and family, who have the dubious honor of an alien intruder setting everything in motion. Cora’s family is fractured by her estranged father, an internet activitivist who is wanted by the US government for classified leaks related to previous alien encounters. “Truth is a human right,” is his mantra, but Nils Ortega is a spectre. His ghost haunts his family and he never seems to leave them in spirit, though he physically abandoned them years ago. leaks sensitive information on his website about aliens and government coverups from his secure location in Germany.
Lindsay Ellis’s prose is filled with sensory detail and yet reads smooth and fast-paced. In the second act, her focus shifts to the alien civilization and the intergalactic genetic purge from which alien Ampersand and the rest of the Fremda aliens are somehow involved. Ellis covers alien taxonomy and linguistics as she builds out their reason for landing on earth.
But it’s the last chapter that made the book for me. Axiom’s End is really about is connection and empathy. Cora and Ampersand end up in a place of deep affection and empathy for one another despite their fundamental differences. It poses many interesting philosophical questions on how we relate and the limits of human love, affection, and communication.