Illegal Alien

Robert J. Sawyer, Author
Robert J. Sawyer, Author Ace Books $21.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-441-00476-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 304 pages - 978-0-441-00592-5
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-15586-1
Paperback - 399 pages - 978-0-14-317510-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 336 pages - 978-1-937007-21-8
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-101-55928-4
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If an alien spaceship appeared in Earth orbit tomorrow, how would humanity react? If Sawyer (Frameshift) is right, there would be little hysteria, especially if the aliens came to us in need of help. In Sawyer's new novel, the Tosoks, natives of a planet circling Alpha Centauri, have been on a mission of exploration, but their starship has sustained damage from interplanetary debris. Now they need to repair their craft and are willing to trade scientific knowledge for our help. It will take a couple of years, but everyone involved appears friendly, so there doesn't seem to be a problem. Then a much-beloved scientist and TV personality, the world's leading expert on the Tosoks, is found gruesomely dead, and the evidence points to an alien as the murderer. Sawyer carefully underplays just about everything in this solid but unspectacular SF version of a legal thriller. The aliens, for example, although far from human and described in fascinating detail, demonstrate few unearthly abilities, and we see relatively little of their superior technology. There are, however, several worthwhile mysteries to be solved, and in the end Sawyer raises the stakes by invoking the possible extermination of humanity. But he deals with even this crisis in a relatively low-key manner, creating a novel that, while absorbing, doesn't rise to the level of The Terminal Experiment, for which he won the 1995 Nebula for best novel. (Dec.)
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