After Lt. Shea fails a simulation test, she is given a second chance. She is to play pilot to a minimal-hassle scientific mission which turns out to be mankind's first contact with alien life.
"Impressive ... I give it my enthusiastic recommendation!" - C J Cherryh
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December 1987 : USA Mass Market Paperback
April 1990 : UK Paperback
February 2013 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition