The novel “Transmission” by Morgan Rice was published for the first time in 2018. It’s the first book in The Invasion Chronicles series.
Kevin is only 13 when he’s diagnosed with a disease that gives him just a few months of life. The blackouts and the visions he starts having seem only consequences of that disease, but Kevin starts having the doubt that there may be something more. When the visions include a series of numbers, he talks about them with his friend Luna, who has the idea of inserting them in an astronomical website to see if they can be space coordinates. The result is that those numbers point to the TRAPPIST-1 star system, which has seven rocky planets.
Kevin’s mother doesn’t believe her son’s visions have any real meaning, but he decides to go through with the matter. He has no idea how the coordinates of a star system could get into his head, so he goes to SETI to ask for help from scientists who are looking for alien signals. It turns out that they may have found it, but Kevin may be the only one able to decipher it, simply by interpreting it in his mind.
Morgan Rice is famous as a fantasy author and, after having published some series of that genre, made her debut in the science fiction field with this novel, again part of a series. It’s a young adult work with a plot that’s very linear and quite essential even for that type of story.
At the center of Kevin’s visions, there’s the system of the ultra-cool dwarf TRAPPIST-1, a very tiny star since it has a mass slightly greater than the minimum needed to trigger nuclear fusion. It would be an irrelevant star if an astronomical investigation hadn’t found some rocky planets orbiting it. After further observations and analysis of the data, on February 22, 2017, the confirmation arrived that there are 7 planets. This stimulated research on this system to try to understand if some of those planets are habitable.
In “Transmission”, Kevin appears to be receiving messages from the TRAPPIST-1 system in his mind, presumably due to the alterations caused by the disease that’s killing him. For this reason, he turns to SETI, the non-profit organization that seeks traces of extraterrestrial intelligence. This part of the plot is a bit problematic in the sense that it’s based rather heavily on the clichés of the stories targeted to young readers in which adults tend to behave stupidly and to be unable to understand the truths given to them by young people. Mind it, that’s often true, but in this novel this concept’s development is dull and proposed various times.
The positive thing about “Transmission” is in the description of the public’s reactions when news leaks of the possible alien signal detection, which seemed sadly realistic to me. The impression is that Morgan Rice had a look at the current situation on social media, where groups of conspiracy theorists, functional illiterates, and idiots of various types react in the most demented ways to any event out of the ordinary.
“Transmission” is really short by today’s standards with less than 200 pages. In the end, it looks more like a big prologue to The Invasion Chronicles series as Kevin’s efforts to be believed become irrelevant after a big twist at the end of the novel that completely changes the situation. Basically, it doesn’t have an ending but the story continues in its sequels. The plot is heavily developed to please younger readers, for whom the novel was written.