cover image The Secret City

The Secret City

Carol Emshwiller, . . Tachyon, $14.95 (209pp) ISBN 978-1-892391-44-5

Emshwiller (Mister Boots ) avoids human-alien first contact clichés in this stark novel about two aliens, Lorpas and Allush, stranded on Earth. Fifty years earlier, their parents came to visit Earth—and waited in vain for a return flight home. Lorpas, a young man, has never known his own planet and scrapes by at the edges of human society, while Allush, a young woman, lives in the isolated alien enclave of the novel's title, hidden in the mountains somewhere in the western U.S. Alternating between their first-person perspectives, Emshwiller chronicles in spare prose Lorpas's journey to the secret city and the immediate attraction between him and Allush. But no sooner have they made their joyous acquaintance than visitors from their ancestral planet arrive, and each must decide whether to return home or remain on Earth. This carefully crafted, ambivalent story depicts alien and human alike struggling just to get by. (Apr.)