cover image Radiomen


Eleanor Lerman . Permanent, $29 (288p) ISBN 978-1-57962-383-8

This literary science fiction novel comes from Lerman (Janet Planet), an award-winning poet. Laurie Perzin, a "post-hippie-jack-of-all service-trades" bartender, works nights at The Endless Weekend, a sports bar located at JFK Airport. She lives alone in a shabby Queens high-rise apartment building, barely making ends meet. One night, she calls in to the psychic Ravenette's radio talk show, who conjures up a vision of the space alien encounter Laurie had as a six-year-old. The radio program host, Jack Shepherd, follows up with a phone call and establishes that Laurie is the niece of the late Avi Perzin, who appeared on Shepherd's radio program as an expert in satellite and radio communications. Laurie admits she observed an extraterrestrial presence she calls "the radioman" while she assisted Avi to investigate the exciting Sputnik telemetry broadcasts, which also included the mysterious "ghost signals" on the same frequency. Laurie accepts Ravenette's invitation to visit her, but then discovers Ravenette is a key figure in the Scientology-like cult known as The Blue Awareness now headed by the founder's son, Raymond Gilmartin. Ravenette demands Laurie turn over "the Blue Box" device she inherited from Avi, and her refusal stirs up trouble with The Blue Awareness. Laurie secures help when a neighbor gives her a loyal watchdog she names Digitaria. As Lerman's entertaing second novel winds to its conclusion, the spunky Laurie and Shepherd force a showdown with The Blue Awareness. It'll leave readers wondering if there might be life out there. (Jan.)