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The Orion Plan


The Orion Plan

In 1999, Mark Alpert edited a special edition of Scientific American that focused on space exploration. One particular article caught his interest: it discussed the possibility of another civilization launching a small automated probe instead of a large spaceship. Thus an idea was born, and it festered in Alpert's psyche until he put it down on paper in the form of his latest novel, THE ORION PLAN.

Much of the alien invasion fiction we have read or seen involves large alien spacecrafts invading earth and threatening extinction, colonization, etc. But what if an alien invasion came from a smaller, far less notable presence? It is here where the book’s action begins. NASA scientist Sarah Pooley notices a sizable blip on her radar; upon first look, it appears to be larger than a 10-story building and traveling at 37 kilometers per second toward earth.

"THE ORION PLAN presents an alien invasion unlike any we have seen before and clearly makes an argument for Alpert to receive serious consideration as the modern-day successor to Michael Crichton."

When Sarah reports this, she is quickly scoffed away by the U.S. government, who assures her that the object is much smaller and not the huge projectile she predicted would hit somewhere in the NY/NJ area. Instead, a small dark orb lands in the upper Manhattan area of Inwood. Within Inwood Hill Park, the orb is discovered. Three separate individuals are about to encounter it, each with different results.

The first is Joe, a former doctor who is now a broken-down, disgraced homeless man. His thoughts upon discovering the object center on the money he can make by selling it. Hopefully, it would be enough for him to regain his dignity and the love of his estranged wife and daughter. Next is Emilio, a young Latino man who leads a neighborhood gang that is approached by Joe about assisting in uncovering the mysterious object. And lastly is Dorothy, an elderly woman who is in the late stages of cancer and has been known to check on Joe to see how he is surviving life on the cruel streets of NYC.

Meanwhile, Sarah is still on a mission to uncover this object in spite of the seeming lack of concern from the U.S. government and Department of Defense. She rationalizes her search by making a comparison to a small InSight probe that the U.S. sent to Mars and recognizes that a similar small device could infiltrate earth, possibly unnoticed.

The probe begins to draw power from local electrical cables, and expansion has begun. The three people who initially came into contact with it each will suffer different outcomes as a result. One will be consumed by it, another will be injected with nanodevices that create weapons within the body, and the last will be saved for a larger task: being used as the mouthpiece for the alien life form known simply as the Emissary --- and all is not benevolent in these messages.

The Emissary does not necessarily represent a species as it does an entire planet. As Sarah soon learns, this may not be the first time that this life form or intelligence has attempted to take over another planet or species. The truth turns out to be far more terrifying, and it already may be too late once Sarah is able to convince the government exactly what they are up against.

Mark Alpert has weaved another expertly plotted tale that uses elements of both horror and science fiction to deliver chills inside a non-stop driving narrative. THE ORION PLAN presents an alien invasion unlike any we have seen before and clearly makes an argument for Alpert to receive serious consideration as the modern-day successor to Michael Crichton.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on April 15, 2016

The Orion Plan
by Mark Alpert