Book Review: Connor Mackay's first novel is a blast

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
December 14th, 2020

“Albatross – Contact” is a gripping science fiction novel of the warring-aliens variety.  It introduces a variety of well-developed characters, both human and alien, some of whom interact peacefully, and others whose attacks result in full-on, rip-roaring, seriously tech-enhanced battles. 

The principal male character is outstanding in physical strength, ability, emotion and leadership, and – in this first book of a series – needs to develop his control of those qualities; the main female character is strong in intelligence and leadership, and seems more controlled, pragmatic and emotionally grounded. They both got into my heart, and so did a number of the other characters, including aliens.

Themes that emerge from the story include, among others not  listed here,  xenophobia and its tragic outcomes, the many costs of war, loss and grief and their powerful effects, the countervailing effects of friendship and love – both the romantic and platonic types. Addictions and enhancement of abilities by alien high-tech mechanisms and pharmaceuticals also have big roles.

There is ample suspense in the story. We are left wanting to know more, and the author promises at least four more books.  I look forward to seeing where Mackay’s imagination takes us next.  Soon, please?  — but no pressure!

Many Rosslanders know that author Connor Mackay was raised in Rossland and has been busy as an actor, screenwriter, playwright and now novelist,  after experience in fire-fighting, carpentry, and more.  It’s not just the novel’s main male character who demonstrates strong leadership qualities – besides his leadership in fire-fighting, older Rosslanders may recall that it was a newly- teenaged Connor Mackay who first (back in approximately 2001) stood before City Council and made a compelling case for a skatepark in Rossland; it took a long while for that idea to become a reality, but now it’s a wonderful community asset.

This reader was left with some frivolous thoughts – the main female character’s name is “Sarah Li” and I can’t help wondering if the author was fond of “Sara Lee” cakes, or the idea of them.  Then there’s the author photo, showing a rough, tough, handsome, macho-looking profile of the author, with an enormous partially-burned cigar jutting from his mouth.  That cigar gives me pause.  I would like to  sit down and discuss various matters with some authors, including this one, but that cigar and its stench would be seriously off-putting.  

But — if Mackay needs cigars to keep writing, then keep the cigars going, I say.

Below:  the jutting-cigar photo:

And a cigar-free image, courtesy of Laura Mackay:

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