Andrew Lane & Nigel Foster start a new series with 'Netherspace'

When extraterrestrials came to Earth forty years ago, their anatomy proved unfathomable and all attempts at communication failed. Because of these limitations, humans and aliens were unable to engage in any effective interaction beyond crude barter trade. But through this trade, however primitive, humanity gained something they were so far lacking and desperately needed: the advanced alien technology that, without the extraterrestrials’ arrival, would take thousands of years to develop. The items that the visitors demanded in exchange for their technology had no discernible pattern: an apple core, Tower Bridge, a used fondue kit, a live human…

That’s right – the price that the aliens demanded for one particular type of their advanced technology that was especially sought after by the humans – the devices that powered their spaceships – was a living, breathing human being.

Kara’s sister was one of the hundreds of hapless individuals exchanged for these ‘Netherspace Drives’ – faster-than-light engines that allowed humans to colonize the stars – therefore Kara has little love for the aliens. But when a group of colonists are captured, the ex-army sniper is reluctantly recruited into the hostage-retrieval team by GalDiv – the organisation that oversees alien trade. As an ex-army sniper, her role in the team is clear, less so is Marc Keislack’s, a multi-media artist made famous by the aliens’ unexplained interest in his works, although the team’s pre-cog Tse is adamant that Marc has an important part to play. All three are well aware that they have only a very small chance to succeed.

With humans reliant on alien technology, the mission requires careful treading. But how can you negotiate with the extraterrestrials when communication between the two species is all but impossible, and when you haven’t got a slightest idea what their intention are, or why they took all those people in the first place?

Netherspace, which is the first book in a new science fiction series written in collaboration between Andrew Lane and Nigel Foster, was published by Titan Books and is available from 2 May 2017 in paperback (384 pages) and e-book format with RRP £7.99.