The Life of Riley

Alexander C. Irvine, Author . Subterranean $25 (149p) ISBN 978-1-59606-013-5

Having reimagined the past (A Scattering of Jades ; One King, One Soldier ), Irving presents an intriguing near-future in which America has suffered devastating natural disasters and the government has welcomed supposedly benign aliens known as "Bettys," though some Christian fundamentalists regard them as bioengineered demons. When ex-Marine Gabriel "Bib" Riley, part of the U.S. president's protective team, is accused of shooting a squatter on the south lawn of the White House and thereby inciting a riot, he disappears. Four different characters—Bib's wife, Zena; religious fanatic Truman Throckmorton; a streetie named Nate Drinkwater; and an alien Betty—wonder what really happened. Zena is told her husband inadvertently carries a device that may doom humankind. Does he? Some of the aliens have evidently accepted Christianity, or have they? Why are the Bettys here? Why does Lawanda Riley think her son is the Messiah? Irvine untangles some of the plots and counterplots by the end of this kooky novella, but doesn't supply enough answers for the reader to feel completely rewarded. Agent, Ralph Vicinanza. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/27/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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