Scott Warden is a man haunted by the past – and soon to be haunted by the future. In early twenty-first-century Thailand, Scott is an expatriate slacker. Then, one day, he inadvertently witnesses an impossible event: the violent appearance of a 200-foot stone pillar in the forested interior. Its arrival collapses trees for a quarter mile around its base, freezing ice out of the air and emitting a burst of ionizing radiation. It appears to be composed of an exotic form of matter. And the inscription chiseled into it commemorates a military victory…sixteen years in the future. Shortly afterwards, another, larger pillar arrives in the center of Bangkok – obliterating the city and killing thousands. Over the next several years, human society is transformed by these mysterious arrivals from, seemingly, our own near future. Who is the warlord “Kuin” whose victories they note? Scott wants only to rebuild his life. But some strange look of causality keeps drawing him in, to the central mystery and a final battle with the future.
Robert Charles Wilson, says The New York Times, “writes superior science fiction thrillers.” His Darwinia won Canada’s Aurora Award; his most recent novel, The Chronoliths, won the prestigious John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Now he tells a gripping tale of alien contact and human love in a mysterious but hopeful universe. At Blind Lake, a large federal research installation in northern Minnesota, scientists are using a technology they barely understand to watch everyday life in a city of lobster like aliens upon a distant planet. They can’t contact the aliens in any way or understand their language. All they can do is watch. Then, without warning, a military cordon is imposed on the Blind Lake site. All communication with the outside world is cut off. Food and other vital supplies are delivered by remote control. No one knows why. The scientists, nevertheless, go on with their research. Among them are Nerissa Iverson and the man she recently divorced, Raymond Scutter. They continue to work together despite the difficult conditions and the bitterness between them. Ray believes their efforts are doomed; that culture is arbitrary, and the aliens will forever be an enigma. Nerissa believes there is a commonality of sentient thought, and that our failure to understand is our own ignorance, not a fact of nature. The behavior of the alien she has been tracking seems to be developing an elusive narrative logic–and she comes to feel that the alien is somehow, impossibly, aware of the project’s observers. But her time is running out. Ray is turning hostile, stalking her. The military cordon is tightening. Understanding had better come soon…. Blind Lake is a 2004 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel.