Ultimatum by John Anderson
When alien delegate Charlie was sent down to Earth, he never imagined the humans would comply with his demands. He wanted to give humanity a chance to eradicate all the wrong in the world by eliminating discrimination, hate, greed, immorality, and envy. The only way he believed they would comply was to threaten their entire existence by an alien invasion takeover. He would give them 10 years to right all the wrong and to unify with one another. Even the President of the United States expressed extreme displeasure about the demand. However, stricken with fear, even though the humans didn’t want to bend to the threat, they knew there was not much of a choice. Ten years pass…
Did the humans come together to force out the aliens or did the aliens return seeing not much had changed since giving the Ultimatum? Will destruction fall upon Earth obliterating human civilization?
Guest review by Tanya Kannta
Dystopia meets Utopia in John Andersen’s latest novel, Ultimatum. The year is 2047 and the world is on the brink of self-destruction. The environment is deteriorating, greed consumes the wealthy, and the poor remain disparate. Except the people have no idea their world is reaching a cataclysmic state until they are visited by aliens.
Humanity has a chance if they can alter their ways within ten years. An alien named Charlie is tasked by his planet to provide this last opportunity for Earthlings to save themselves, allowing Earth a final attempt at salvation and ultimately membership into the Continuum (a federation of planets). If they cannot rise to the task, the Earth will be obliterated.
Some history – Charlie is a member of the “Brethren” from a planet called Ikentrar. The Brethren have been monitoring Earth for tens of thousands of years. Not only have they been overseeing Earth, they also are responsible for all the world religions.
In essence, humanity must transform into a peaceful and collaborative society in order to be saved. If humans continue down the path of greed, destruction, and hate, Ikentrar will have no choice but to fry Earth to a crisp, so they don’t contaminate the Continuum.
This is more a treatise on how far gone our society can become, while offering one potential avenue for world peace. It’s a lofty hopeful rendering of a Utopic world based on a communal mode of production. Readers who are dreamers will find themselves wishing they could be a part of this transformation. For those who are a bit more of a realist or a skeptic, the premise of the tale will be hard to swallow.
I found myself enjoying the foundations behind how the world can unite, though the sociology lecturer in me itched to have this author do another revision of the story – because there are many aspects of the manuscript that are based on conflict theory, but only scratch the surface. I found myself asking more questions about the viability and how this would actually be accomplished. My mind produced all the devil’s advocate possibilities as many of these were left unanswered. Such as, why did the aliens wait so long for the humans to self-destruct. If they are so powerful and their technology is so advanced, why must they rely on the humans for other concerns? Why didn’t the author realistically explicate what really happens when the world’s mode of production is abruptly replaced? What about the psychological as well as physical consequences? Or maybe that is part of the author’s approach – to leave the reader pondering?
Each chapter introduces us to different characters, though Charlie always reappears each year. Moreover, there is a side story about our alien friends that I wish the author had developed. Most of the story is based in conversation, and while we don’t learn very much about the characters, their relationships, and the settings, we do have a very clear understanding of the problems plaguing the world and one theory on how to save it.