Celebrity trials, populist bile and The X-Files get the Buckley (God Is My Broker; Thank You for Smoking) skewer in this fast-paced satire. John O. Banion is an acerbic journalist, a talk-show host, a D.C. insider--and proud of it. MJ-12 is a secret federal program (based on a real-life program of the same name) that stages alien abductions to maintain popular support for military spending and space exploration. When he is ""probed"" by ""aliens"" at a golf course, Banion becomes a true believer in UFOs. Ostracized by the D.C. establishment, he uses his TV show to organize millions of UFO cultists (the ""Millennium Men""), who gather on the Mall (the ""Millennium Man March"") and just may bring down the government. Consistently hilarious and painfully topical, the novel can resemble a series of stand-up comedy routines; it's dense with one-liners, inside jokes, mini-exposes and tangential riffs on peripheral characters, from FBI men to Larry King. But Buckley's plot is no drawing-room farce: he envisions national catastrophes, convergences of millions of people, the stuff of big-budget disaster movies and spy thrillers. His wit-above-all style combines with his ambitious plot to flatten his characters: the few sympathetic relationships--between a refugee secret agent and his down-home fisherman protector, or between Banion and a sexy UFO crusader--seem out of place, little lumps of feeling in an otherwise smooth, cool gelatin of extended banter. By the time the climactic courtroom scenes have tied up the subplots, the novel seems both hurried and cluttered: half monologue, half screenplay. Buckley delivers the irreverent comedy his fans are looking for, but those seeking more complexity from their political fiction, or more three-dimensional characters, may feel, well, alienated. Agent, Amanda Urban. BOMC selection; film rights sold to New Line Cinema; author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999 Release date: 03/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
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