When aliens finally make first contact, they abduct Estlin Hume from his home and take him across the globe to act as translator — too bad he has no idea what they’re saying.
Estlin Hume lives in Twin Butte, Alberta surrounded by a horde of affectionate squirrels. His involuntary squirrel-attracting talent leaves him evicted, expelled, fired and near penniless until two aliens arrive and adopt him as their translator. Yanked around the world at the center of the first contact crisis, Estlin finds his new employers incomprehensible. As he faces the ultimate language barrier, unsympathetic military forces converging in the South Pacific keep threatening to kill the messenger. The question on everyone’s mind is why are the aliens here? But Estlin’s starting to think we’ll happily blow ourselves up in the process of finding that out.