Rhinehart’s SF satire adeptly bounces back and forth between radically silly and serious, never going overboard in either direction, on its way to a potentially deadly but entertaining showdown between fun and tyranny. When a hairy spherical alien jumps onto Billy Morton’s fishing boat, Billy names it Louie and brings it home to his family. Louie and the rest of his bouncing kind are on Earth to play, but their games include attacking corruption, warmongering, and a host of other sins that they believe keep most humans struggling instead of enjoying their lives. Billy, who’s been anti-authority since the 1960s, is happy to join the aliens’ various illegal activities, though he rightly guesses that those in power will brand the aliens as terrorists and do everything possible to stomp down the “playing,” ranging from imprisoning aliens to committing brutal acts of war. The merry invaders have considerable mental and other powers, but those may not be enough to save them – or Billy and his family. The political diatribes are occasionally heavy-handed, but for the most part they’re deftly handled in amusing ways, and readers will feel like they’re playing right along with Louie and his alien and human buddies. Agent: Daniel Mandel, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)
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