cover image Alien Stories

Alien Stories

E.C. Osondu. BOA Editions, $17 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-950774-31-9

Osondu (Voices of America) probes the many meanings of alien in this revelatory collection about immigration and colonization. Blurring and skipping back and forth between science fiction and realism, the stories visit otherworldly planets (“Mark”) and a ranch where people of color are paid to enact racist stereotypes for white visitors (“Alien Enactors”). “Feast” portrays an alien lynching, and “All Our Earthly Posessions” describes the terror of migrating from one country to another. In “Debriefing,” new immigrants are given a list of instructions on how to survive in America, such as who not to date and the type of parties to avoid. In “Focus Group,” humans detail their opinions on aliens, from their skin color to their lack of democracy. While some entries peter out in flat, unremarkable endings, Osondu is at his best when shifting tone and perspective between stories, in one instance imitating the white gaze (“Guess what: these aliens from the African continent had turned out to be not too bad, actually”) and, in the next, voicing the object of it (on American cops: “What they don’t know makes them angry”). Osondu’s impressive range makes this worth a look. (May)