GROOM LAKE by Bryan O

GROOM LAKE

KIRKUS REVIEW

An experimental fantasy about government secrets, UFOs and the looming threat of America’s military-industrial complex.

Readers expecting a paranoid polemic about the mysterious and nefarious exo-political goings-on at Area 51 will be surprised: this is a novel. Readers expecting a fantasy structured around the cultural ballyhoo surrounding Area 51 will be surprised: this story is all true—or at least this is what the author wants us to believe. Or does he? It’s a playful strategy and will deeply satisfy readers who love fringe culture (e.g., cold fusion, UFOs, remote viewing, et al.), but as the author directly addresses his readers, challenging them to figure out if the prefatory letter to his novel is authentic and if he might not be a black-ops hero disseminating an intergalactic revelation, the spell is preemptively broken by being so on the nose with the strategy of ambiguity. What is much more likely is that like so many self-proclaimed investigators and investigations into Area 51 and the shadow government, this novel is a bold, intelligently conceived piece of wish fulfillment and self-promotion. No problem for addicts of the fringe, but readers unfamiliar with the world of UFO/conspiracy should be advised this comes with the territory; in fact, were it not for such ingenuous personalities, there would be no fringe culture of which to speak. The hero of the narrative, which is addictively broken up with presumably fictitious essays and reports from operatives and officials in the know, is the strikingly named Ben Skyles, a USAP (Unacknowledged Special Access Project) operative. It is with his Byzantine journey through the shadow world that the author reveals his message. A deal has been brokered between the military-industrial complex and extraterrestrials, and nations have powers of control that would make even the fabulist teleplay writers of The X-Files blush. For this kind of book, an author’s self-importance is finally not a hindrance but a benefit, and it’s more or less understood that the author is the real hero here. The narrative proper is engaging and fast paced, but again some of the spell of its climax is broken when the author can’t help but remind us just how diligent we must be in uncovering the truth about aliens and how lucky we have been to receive this particular revelation.

A dynamic work of fringe culture that will entertain and intrigue readers if not convert them to the UFO religion.

 

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0615200996
Page count: 322pp
Publisher: MOBO Inc.
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2012




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