Xenogeneic is a science fiction thriller about first contact with an alien race that lost their civil war and wants to take over Earth.
Dr. Elena Pyetrov’s father vanished in space 18 years ago while searching for extraterrestrial life. As an aerospace engineer, Elena travels into space to search for answers and continue his work. Her ship is pulled off course and crashes. She suspects extraterrestrial interference.
The alien Knoonk lost their civil war in a distant star system and fled to Earth’s neighborhood to hide and regroup. They seek a new home—Earth. Unable to live in Earth’s toxic environment, the aliens kidnap and use humans to genetically modify their species to adapt.
Surviving the crash, Elena and her shipmates are transported to a closed cave system where the Knoonk monitor and control everything. Elena tries to make a connection with her hosts and find ways to work together, but Knoonk leaders rebuff her and force the humans to submit as slaves. The aliens use illusions, distractions, and social experiments to learn from their hostages and keep them off balance. Resistance by captive humans brings swift punishment to break the human spirit.
While Elena continues to look for ways to cooperate with the Knoonk, it becomes apparent that there can be no compromise. The Knoonk want to capture Earth for their species. It is winner take all. With time running out, Elena must dig deep to uncover the alien plan and find a way to stop them before the human race faces enslavement and extinction.
What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for Xenogeneic: First Contact emerged from our fascination with space and the SETI project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) that aims to make contact with any potential intelligence on other planets. The idea is to learn and to potentially exchange ideas and technology. Caught up in our yearning to know is the anticipation of what we might find out there. This is Dr. Elena Pyetrov’s initial motivation.
However, there is always the question of what might motivate an alien species to seek personal interaction with us here on Earth. By seeking to make contact, we are also advertising that we’re here for anyone who might not wish us well. These ideas led to the central concept of first contact with an alien species whose motivations were not friendly toward humans. Xenogeneic: First Contact looks at an alien species that has lost their own civil war and now are pilgrims in need of a new home. Because they can’t live in Earth’s environment and thus feel vulnerable, they seek to dominate with their superior technology. The story centers on Dr. Elena Pyetrov’s encounter with these aliens and how she seeks to interact with them, understand their plans, and prevent the annihilation of the human race.
How did you come up with the characters?
For the lead character, Dr. Elena Pyetrov, I came upon a scientist/explorer who had lost her father to space exploration and resented his absences while she was growing up. Despite mixed feelings about his role, she continued in his footsteps. The obstacles she had to overcome to get her space mission off the ground gave her the determination and resilience to deal with the aliens she meets. Because of feeling abandoned as a child, Elena takes responsibility for a young half-sister she discovers in the caves. This commitment leads her to have a chance to overcome the obstacles the aliens throw at her.
For the aliens, I looked at what would bring them to our solar system. Space travel is quite expensive. People and aliens would not travel the great distances for simple trade and interaction unless they discovered an extremely fast and economical means of transport or were moved by other motivations. The alien Knoonk lost their civil war and were fleeing for survival. The idea of having to leave home and not return became high motivation for them to find a new place to live. It was rather like the Puritans who left England for Massachusetts. They, too, felt the need and motivation to travel a great distance to a new land in order to hold true to their values.
Did you base any of the characters off of real people?
None of my characters are based on any real people. I’ve been very careful about that. Yet I can only write what I’ve seen, heard or read, and thus I can’t deny that there are bits and pieces of my experiences and observations that filter into the development of characters. Fundamentally, I try to put myself into the minds and hearts of my lead characters and write as if I’d become that person. In doing so, I’m drawing on experiences.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
I rarely get writer’s block anymore. I’ve found that one cause for getting stymied was letting the editor in me stifle the creative writer. I’ve learned to turn off the editor entirely and let the creative process flow. I can always come back later and edit, but if I don’t create, there’s nothing to revise. The other thing I’ve found is that when I feel blocked, it’s best to step back and work on something else. I often think about a writing problem before I go to bed and wake up with solutions.
What writing projects are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects?
I’m working with stories involving time travel into the past, the singularity where artificial intelligence challenges humans, and genetically modified humans. At the forefront is a story about an android that experiences consciousness and emergent behavior in part because of how she was created. Her creator built her with capabilities beyond his own and struggles to control her. She doesn’t “want” to be controlled.
Lance Erlick writes science fiction thrillers for young adult and adult readers. He is the author of The Rebel Within, The Rebel Trap, and Rebels Divided, three books in the Rebel series. In those stories, he explores the consequences of Annabelle Scott following her conscience. He authored the Regina Shen series–Resilience, Vigilance, Defiance, and Endurance. This series takes place after abrupt climate change leads to the Great Collapse and a new society under the World Federation. His latest novel is Xenogeneic: First Contactabout encounters with an alien race aiming to take over Earth.
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