Terra Incognita

A novel of first contact

This is Tony’s first novel, with its fifth draft just completed. Set in near-future Australia, it explores what happens following the detection of alien life in our solar system through the eyes of people who become caught up in the unfolding events.

This story grew from Tony wondering how we might react to a true first contact event, as well as what the motivations would be for an alien civilisation to actually make contact with us. Why would they need to do so, and how should we respond? What happens when they ask for our help?

The events are followed through the eyes of a number of everyday people who are as surprised as anyone else that they have a role to play as mankind grapples with what to do. The story starts with Nick Cooper, a backroom policy advisor to an Australian Government Minister and Olivia Meyers, a physicist from MIT, and we meet other characters along the way who play increasingly important roles. 

The ideas explored in the story reflect Tony’s long interest in “hard” science fiction – that is, stories that incorporate as much real science as possible in the science fiction. As the story evolved, it also became clear that wider themes were emerging, to do with our sense of place, and trying to find where that is the universe.

Tony looks forward to being able to share his final work with you once the novel is done. In the meantime, he’ll be providing some background and thoughts on the writing of Terra Incognita in his blog.


The story is set in the early 2030s and  spends most of its six-month span in Australia, particularly the outback desert of Western Australia. It also includes settings in the United States.


Aside from the obvious issues associated with first contact, the story explores what it means to find a place to call home, the impact of advanced technologies, and how we react to the unknown.


Many and varied  – ranging from my early exposure to Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, to more recent enjoyment of Andy Weir, Matt Haig and John Birmingham.