Paul McAuley. The Choice. (Asimovs February 2011)

A story in McAuley’s Jackaroo sequence, where that alien race have opened up the universe to Earth, potentially saving us from the ecological and political disasters we were bringing on ourselves.

The story is set in Norfolk, a low lying part of eastern England now inundated by rising sea levels. Lucas is a young boy living with his ailing mother, a political activist, who heads off with a friend to find out whether the rumours about a beached alien vessel nearby are true.

The setting and locals are lovingly described (just the odd Americanism being a bit of an anachronism in rural Norfolk), with family dynamics playing a strong part. What looks to be a story about a day’s adventure becomes much darker as the consequences of the their close encounter unfold.

(If you want to check out an example of the Jackaroo series – Crimes and Glory is online on Subterranean, and worth the read.

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