cover image EARTHRISE


William C. Dietz, . . Ace, $23.95 (418pp) ISBN 978-0-441-00971-8

This concluding sequel to Dietz's Deathday (2001) contains the same wide cast of characters whose recognizability (burnt-out pro, canny vet, manipulative pol with sincere heart, etc.) is balanced by their better-than-average depth of portrayal. Yes, Alexander Franklin is a devious politician with ambitions. But he is also an African-American U.S. president who mourns his wife's death and is willing to accept a reputation as a collaborator in order to organize the resistance movement against the insectile Saurons. Yes, the more noble humans and equally enslaved Ra 'Na defeat the arrogant Saurons in the end. But not everyone is motivated by selfless ideals, and even the good guys around Franklin make a hard (and immoral) choice, using the Saurons to decimate the white supremacists who also fight to overthrow the aliens. The author includes some interesting speculation on the nature of race relations and class divisions, giving his Saurons three separate genetic castes operating in a rigid social hierarchy. The commentary on human race relations is full of satiric insight. Surprisingly, this tale of worldwide alien invasion centers on only four locales. The sense of confinement, however, does help build an atmosphere of captivity, which aids considerably in reader identification with the plight of the human characters. Unfortunately, Dietz's plot-central alien reproduction seems unlikely, while his humans are rarely confronted with the problems of reconciling their real differences of belief. (Sept. 3)