Sunday, March 29, 2009

When They Come from Space by Mark Clifton

First book by Mark Clifton I have read. I got this book because Barry N. Malzberg gave very warm recommendation for this author in his book Breakfast in the Ruins. This book was okay, but I don’t really yet see what the fuzz is.

Aliens are coming! Good thing government has been wise enough to prepare beforehand, and establish a Department of Extraterrestrial Life Research with a two billion dollar budget, even before there was any inkling of the aliens. Too bad that it is a government department, and spending and bureaucracy are a bit rampant. E.g. there is an entire department which function is to draw on a vertical small horizontal lines to represent the minutes and hours. And of course there is master copy, and working copy of the line. And why create such line: when another life form is discovered, the instant of such importance will be marked on the chart as a permanent record for all posterity. The aliens luckily seem very benevolent, and as their first task they seem to chase away other aliens which are howering in dark, scaring spaceship over most major cities.
The book is more a parody of government, media and human stupidity than anything else. For most part it seems to be very bitter parody, and at a few places the story stops for page or two for a rant of stupidity of it all. Writing is ok, maybe a bit clumsy at some place, but for a book which is almost fifty years old the readablity was pretty ok. ***½

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