Avon, Mar 31 2009, $7.99
In the distant future, humans are divided between Naturals created in the traditional way and GEPs developed to the buyer’s specifications in test tubes as genetically engineered people. Each GEP is indentured to a boss until they are old enough to produce and go on their own.
Kiera Smith of The Bureau of Alien Affairs is much more evolved than the usual GEP as she is stronger, faster, heals quicker and is an empath. She is sent to the planet Orpheus Two, where the Buri race faces extinction as the natives have dropped to under 100 living. Dynatec corporation claims the planet since the Buri will be gone within 100 cycles. Buri leader Thor Sparks and Kiera are attracted to one another and he actually makes her feel she belongs to him; an alien feeling for the GEP loner. His people also welcome her as one of them rather than the usual treating her as an intrusive outsider. She will insure Dynatec adheres to the rules, but the firm wants to expedite their take-over by immediately annihilating the dwindling indigent populace. Kiera risks her life to keep her adopted people safe.
This excellent science fiction tale contains characters whether they are Naturals, GEPs or aliens that seem plausible. The audience will root for the “David” Buri to somehow triumph against the Goliath Dynatec Corporation. Kiera struggles with the awakening of new emotions as the Buri welcome her as an insider showering her with love and respect; something Naturals never have done before as she is used to being a tool to them. Thus when Thor and his people get through to her, she lowers her natural barriers for the first time in her life. Though in some ways too simplistic with the evil industrial giant trying to destroying the pristine native world, Katherine Allred provides an entertaining strong thriller as CLOSE ENCOUNTERS in this case includes the heart and soul of a GEP who never understood she had a soul and her heart that did anything besides pumping blood.