Most of the story is simply a description of everyday life in a German village - in fourteenth century. Aliens enter to provide color. There is a small thread running, in parallel, in twenty-first century (in the US, I think).
I haven't really read the whole book. In nearly 2 weeks, I am barely about half way through. And I am not sure I will finish it; if I do, I might revisit this article.
- This story goes on way too long. Or may be I am not patient enough.
- I have zero background in medieval European history. While I can generally follow the story through, someone with right background will probably enjoy it more.
- I have zero background in Christianity. And this book is deeply into it.
- It uses a lot of not so commonly used words of English. Particularly densely in early pages, but also in later pages. It's my third language; may be those with English as first language will feel less frustrated.
This novel is available both in paper form, & as a free PDF download.
An alien ship, carrying researchers & holidaying folk some place, takes a kind of wrong turn & ends up crashing on earth - near the German village of Oberhochwald. While these aliens ("Krenkens") are star farers, much of their technology is roughly at the modern human level - as we learn through the book. Year is 1348 AD.
The event disturbs the routine life of villagers. We learn about the normal village life, a little about the aliens customs, & uneasy acceptance of the aliens by villagers. Where I left the story, aliens have been in the village for nearly a year.
Turns out that a few years after aliens' visit, the village was abandoned & renamed "Teufelheim" (meaning "Devil-home") - later corrupted to "Eifelheim". Devil is a reference to aliens. And the village has never been resettled. I suppose the reasons for abandoning & renaming are to be found in part of the book I haven't read.
All through, a very small parallel thread is running in modern times. Dr Tom Schwoerin & Sharon Nagy are a couple living together. Tom is some kind of analytical historian; Sharon is a super-smart physicist. Tom find Eifelheim anomaly, & is curious why it has never been resettled. Sharon keeps making mind-boggling discoveries in fundamental physics: that speed of light & Planck's constant are not really constants; that actual time elapsed in a second decreases (or is it increases?) as the universe ages; that galaxies are moving apart at speeds that cannot assume arbitrary values but are quantized. There might be more in pages remaining.
- Arthur Clarke's "Trouble with the natives": A short piece of humor about the adventures of aliens in an English village.
Eifelheim, novel, review
First published: 2006
Nominated for Hugo Award 2007 final round in novel category