Eifelheim by Michael Flynn is a well crafted hard science fiction novel. Originally published in 2006, my hardcover copy is 320 pages. Flynn is a good writer, which makes Eifelheim a satisfying blend of hard science fiction and literature. To complete the total package, in Eifelheim Flynn has also meshed hard science fiction with historical fiction. The majority of the book takes place in the 14th century. The chapters from the present day are interspersed between the medieval story line and present the hard science fiction aspects of the story. The plot is two fold; basically an alien spacecraft crashes near a Medieval village and the villagers react to it while in the present day two university professors who are domestic partners from very different fields are working on their research projects. Just as the villagers meet the aliens, historical research meets physics. Flynn does a masterful job of blending the authenticity of the historic characters with the extra-terrestrials, and, as one reviewer pointed out, there are no dragons.
Eifelheim is strongly recommended for fans of hard science fiction. I'm going to be looking into more of Michael Flynn's books.
"In the fourteenth century, the Black Death ravaged Europe. Most towns decimated by it were eventually resettled, except for Eifelheim, despite its ideal location. Mathematical historian Tom discovers this anomaly and an unexpected connection to his domestic partner Sharon's research in theoretical physics, which seems to be leading to a method of interdimensional travel. In fact, as Eifelheim's priest back then, Father Dietrich, relates, before the plague's arrival, an interstellar ship crashed nearby. The encounters between its passengers and the people of Oberhochwald, as Eifelheim was first called, reflect the panoply of attitudes of the time, from fear of the foreign to love and charity for one's neighbors to the ideas of nascent natural philosophy (science), and the aliens' reactions are equally fascinating. Flynn credibly maintains the voice of a man whose worldview is based on concepts almost entirely foreign to the modern mind, and he makes a tense and thrilling story of historical research out of the contemporary portions of the tale. ~ Regina Schroeder"
"Sometimes he envied the monk his ability to stir men's hearts; but only sometimes. Stirred, a heart could be a terrible thing."
"It is not a beautiful thing, this world of hers. The geodesics are warped and twisted things. Space and time spiral off in curious, fractal vortices, in directions that have no name. Dimensions are quicksilver slippy - looked at sideways, they would vanish."
"There is something true about Sharon Nagy in that one half-missed detail: that she uses a pen and not a pencil. It betokens a sort of hubris."
"Sharon regarded his verbal popcorn much as a miser does a spendthrift. She was the sort of person for whom the expression, That goes without saying, really does induce silence."
"Yet, if the Krenken were ruled by instinctus, the rational appetite could not exist in them, since a higher appetite necessarily moved a lower one. Which meant that the Krenken were beasts."
And finally this gem which foretells a fable or two (keep in mind the Krenken are grasshopper like aliens):
"The krenken might have spent the summer building snug cottages instead of collecting butterflies and flowers."