(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In order to bolster his income as an assistant professor of psychology, Norman Johnson, whose special field of investigation is group dynamics and anxiety, accepted a government grant to determine the best composition of a team that would be able to negotiate with alien life forms. Although Johnson was convinced that the possibility of contact with extraterrestrial life was highly improbable, he needed money to buy a house, and so long as someone was willing to pay the bills, he would give them value for their money. After several months of intensive tests, he duly produced “Recommendations for the Human Contact Team to Interact with Unknown Life Forms (ULF),” complete with a list of individuals who should be selected for the initial contact. With the submission of his report, however, Johnson put the matter aside and forgot about it completely.

Then, unexpectedly, he is transported, in deep secrecy, to the South Pacific and informed that an alien spaceship has been discovered deep beneath the surface, surrounded by coral deposits some three hundred years in development. Convinced that a genuine UFO is on the ocean floor, a joint military-civilian team is dispatched to an undersea habitat to investigate and analyze the phenomenon. To everyone’s surprise, however, upon entering the strange vessel, they discover that it was constructed some fifty years in the future. Thus, what seemed at first an alien space ship is, in fact, a time machine from...

(The entire section is 413 words.)