Everything you need to understand or teach In the Ocean of Night by Gregory Benford.
In the Ocean of Night, which finished second in the balloting for the Nebula Award as best science fiction novel of 1978, typifies Benford's method in the Nigel Walmsley books. One of the better novels about first contact with extraterrestrials, it can be readily compared with Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama (1973) or Carl Sagan's Contact (1985).
Benford believes passionately in the importance of both the U.S. space program and the attempts made by Carl Sagan, Frank Drake, and others to discover life on other planets, in part because of the valuable spinoff technologies these activities create, and in part because he sees space exploration as something noble in its own right, our century's equivalent of Manifest Destiny. Walmsley, speaking for Benford no doubt, is capable of becoming almost mystical when discussing the subject.
Although Benford's primary theme is first contact, the novel's social concerns...