‘B’ is the captain of the first human mission to the Silver planet, in search of water for an earth that is running dry. The Silvers themselves are a bit of a surprise, as the unmanned explorers that were sent to the planet didn't record them. Although humanoid, the Silvers don't seem to feel greed, anger, lust, or any other ‘human’ emotions. This allows B and his crew, as well as their commanders back on earth, to view the Silvers as less-than-human, and thus perform downright criminal experiments on them. Of course, some of the crew enjoy inflicting pain more than others.
B's own feelings begin to change when he comes across an injured Silver near his ship. The wounds are almost certainly the result of an attack by one of his crew, but rather than take the Silver man to the ship's lab as another experimentation subject, B takes the man to his cabin. As the Silver, named Imms, begins to recover, B starts to form a bond with him, and finds that the Silvers are perhaps capable of more emotion than it appeared.
Things go terribly awry when Imms falls into the clutches of one of the ship's crew. B manages to rescue Imms, but several of the crew are killed in a fire. B takes Imms back to earth, where the alien is cast as a hero. Can the budding relationship between B and Imms survive the strains of being in the spotlight?
There are some rather interesting ideas explored in “The Silvers”. Unfortunately, those ideas are buried in some rather lackluster writing. The narrative is entirely in the third person, switching between B and Imms' point of view. We get a lot of insight into what the characters are thinking, but it makes for rather dry reading, with very little real action. Somewhat surprisingly, given how much time we spend in the character's heads, we wind up not really knowing either one of them. This book could have said a lot about emotions, and which ones are true, but all of that is left on the table.
While the description of the story may make it sound like a science fiction novel, the science part is where it really falls flat. Although you would think the story is set in the future, when travel to other planets is feasible, the world B brings Imms back to is so starkly contemporary as to be anachronistic. The publisher has labeled the book “speculative fiction” and that's probably as good a label as any.
This is one of those odd cases where a book really isn't awful, it just doesn't live up to the promises the premise seems to make. You keep expecting it to go somewhere with it's ideas, but in the end it doesn't quite get off the ground.
“The Silvers” is available from Amazon.