the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘alien invasion

Immortal Clay, by Michael Warren Lucas

published in 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the author (Thanks Michael!!)

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What if you woke up one day, and you remembered everything about your life, but you knew without a shadow of a doubt that you weren’t you anymore? That you were something else?

 

While you’re chewing on that, lemme give you some backstory, and then we’ll circle back to this whole “you’re you but you’re not” thing.

 

30-some years ago, a movie called The Thing bombed at the box office.  The cosmic horror movie that was ahead of its time was based on a 1930s novella by John W Campbell Jr. called “Who Goes There?”.  The plot of the novella and the movie adaptation follow American researchers at an Antarctic research base who come across an alien being who can perfectly imitate any lifeform it comes across. Any tiny part of the alien creature acts independently and can imitate anything. There is practically no way to know if your friend has been “assimilated”. The alien will do anything to survive.  We sure are lucky the alien’s ship crash landed in Antarctica, and not, say, the American midwest, right?

 

The movie became a cult classic, spawning sequels, discussions of the alien’s point of view, discussions of how mistrust can spread in a small community, discussions of cosmic horror and how defenseless humans would be of a creature who can so perfectly imitate us after it destroys us.  Is the alien evil? Why would an alien creature understand or care about a human’s definition of evil? Do we blame a cat for killing a mouse?

 

At the end of the movie The Thing, it is assumed that the humans win and that the alien is either dead or will starve to death, and that the rest of humanity has been saved.

 

Assumed.

 

Michael Warren Lucas’s novel Immortal Clay knows what happens when we assume. The concept behind this book is that the researchers in Antarctica failed, the alien survived, the alien grew, the alien found civilization. The alien’s goal is survival. And it won.  Every living thing that it touched, it devoured and then duplicated. Within a few years, every living thing on Earth, every person, every bird, dog, blade of grass, fish, everything, was a duplicate of the alien creature. Kevin Holtzmann knows he isn’t himself anymore. He remembers everything about his life – how he tried (and failed) to save his wife and daughter from being assimilated, where his house is, his old job as a police detective, everything.  But he know he isn’t himself anymore, that he’s just a duplicate created by an impossible-to-understand alien.

 

What happens after the world ends? Actually, mostly the same stuff as before – going to the bar, mowing the lawn, petty shoplifting,  making sure teenagers have adult supervision – just at a slower pace. We’ve already lost, so what’s the hurry?

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rosewater-tade-thompsonRosewater, by Tade Thompson

published in 2016

where I got it: purchased new

read my interview with Tade Thompson here

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Kaaro is a finder. Simply think about something you’ve lost, and  he’ll tell you where it is.  The way he describes how he does this is absolutely incredible – he follows your thought backwards. You’re thinking of a ring you lost? He’ll follow the thread of your thoughts to you remembering where you dropped it, or who you lent it to. Not only can Kaaro follow your thoughts backwards to help you find a lost item, but he can also read your thoughts.  His specific talent may not be exactly the same as those of other sensitives in the city, but their gifts are all very, very real.

 

By day, Kaaro helps fill a bank with useless white noise so mind readers can’t easily pull account numbers out of the minds of customers. By night, he’s an interrogator with the government, pulling thoughts, images, faces, and places out of the minds of criminals and describing them to a forensic artist. In the privacy of his own home, he does his best to forget the violence of his past and tries not to think about what the government does with the information he pulls out of people’s heads.

 

The city of Rosewater started as a pilgrimage village, and grew into a city.  It surrounds a dome known as Utopicity, an enclosed space which is the remnant of a lump of alien something that crash landed about 50 years ago.  Once a year, the dome opens up, physically healing people in the vicinity.  If you live in Rosewater, the yearly pilgrimage of people hoping to be healed is a completely normal thing.  Kaaro knows enough about Utopicity to know he doesn’t want anything to do with it, although the dome is always inescapably  in the background of everything in his life.

 

Rosewater is the strangest and most unique alien invasion story I have ever read.   Read the rest of this entry »

 

tade-thompsonTade Thompson’s work has appeared in Apex Magazine, Interzone, Escape Pod, African Monsters, and in numerous anthologies. Most recently, his horror novella “The Murders of Molly Southbourne” was acquired by Tor.com. His work combines thrillers with horror, first contact with mythology, and a voice that is purely Tade. His newest  novel, Rosewater, out of Apex Publications, will be available in November.  Part alien invasion story, part psychological thriller, and all intelligence, this novel is sure to make an impression.

 

Tade’s debut novel, Making Wolf, won the Golden Tentacle Award at the Kitchies.  He’s taught science fiction writing classes, loves the Netflix show Stranger Things, and suffuses his longhand manuscripts with arrows, flowcharts and doodles. All this is to say he’s an author you need to keep your eye on.  Be sure to check out Tade’s website and his twitter feed @tadethompson.

 

Tade was kind enough to let me pick is brain about Rosewater, the joys of writing and brainstorming longhand, and his favorite writers.

rosewater
Little Red Reviewer: Congratulations on your new novel, Rosewater! What inspired this story, and how did the characters and plot come together?

Tade Thompson: Thank you! The ideas came first. I spent ages ruminating on a particular theme, almost as an exercise. Why would aliens come to Earth? I wrote a short story in the universe many years ago, and kept extrapolating. Then my main character, Kaaro, presented himself, and I started on the first draft. The plot grew around him and it changed quite a bit over subsequent drafts. At one point, for example, it was going to be a dark love story. Let’s just be grateful that didn’t happen. The most important aspect of Kaaro was his flawed character. His personality has been scored and mutilated by life. I fractured the story because that’s what I enjoy. Alejandro Inarritu, when talking about the film “21 Grams”, said that stories are rarely told in a linear fashion in real life. There are always digressions and culs-de-sac. I subscribe to that idea.

LRR: Aliens are so much fun to write, that authors have been writing alien invasion and first contact stories since the beginning of literature. I know there is something that makes Rosewater different, but my blog readers may not. So, what makes Rosewater different from other alien invasion and first contact novels?

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I met Rinn of Rinn Reads when she hosted Science Fiction Month back in November. What a great event!  Not only because science fiction is near and dear to my heart, but because Rinn did an amazing job of getting authors and publishers involved AND getting bloggers who weren’t so sure about science fiction to pick up a few titles.  People, this is what I love about the blogosphere. Someone says “hey, I’d like to do this, who wants to join me?” and suddenly a hundred people are raising their hands.

 

Why H.G. Well’s classic The War of the Worlds is still today, by Rinn

 

“No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater  than man’s and yet as mortal as his own…” (page 1)

 

And so H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds begins, with these immortal and haunting words. To me, it is up there with those fantastic opening lines that include Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. But it’s not just the opening line that really has an impact – the entire book was, at the time, a brand new concept and something really quite shocking, and over one hundred years later it still grips and surprises: it is a timeless classic. It has been adapted time and time again, for the screen, stage and radio, and has influenced so many other authors and works, and even an entirely new genre of invasion fiction.

 

The War of the Worlds has been interpreted in many ways. Commentary on British imperialism, or perhaps Victorian fears, Mars was a very apt planet to use either way. Mars is the Roman god of war, equivalent to Greek Ares; where better for these alien soldiers and destroyers to come from? Wells was not the first to have this idea: it was used as early as 1880 in Percy Greg’s Across the Zodiac.

 

One of the scariest parts of the book is how the human race is completely and utterly powerless against the alien invasion – at least in in the tradition way. Weapons barely make a dent, and even taking down a tripod or two requires some sacrifices. The people watching the HMS Thunder Child fight a tripod believe that they are seeing progress, only to have the ship sink in front of their eyes.  Their weapons include the Heat Ray, which burns people up instantly, the Black Smoke, a poisonous gas which chokes people to death, and the Red Weed. Were those aliens to invade today, when we’ve made so many technological advances, would we fare any better? Some people may look upon our ancestors of the nineteenth century with scorn, and have no doubt that today’s modern warfare would annihilate the Martians – and perhaps we would stand more of a chance – but it doesn’t just come down to that. Another factor to come into it is how we would react.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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