A political thriller-cum-science fiction epic about an alien conspiracy and a president who unwittingly facilitates the destruction of the American dream.
In 1984 Myanmar, an extraterrestrial from a warfaring race known as the Magals landed on Earth and began a desperate fight with the United States. This creature abandoned his post on Earth sometime thereafter, but left his sons with his father, Gozaren. These sons, Gozer and Malhavco, have since joined the military and use their near-invincibility for special operations, presumably not for the protection and promotion of America’s interests abroad, but for dark, ulterior motives. This really isn’t such an unfamiliar America—the many wars on terror are still raging, the Bush administration had its two terms in power and there’s a newly elected black president in the White House. However, readers will have a difficult time believing that geopolitical history would have unfolded the same way as it has today given the occurrence of an interstellar war that decimated America’s armed forces. Another problem is the aliens themselves. Presumably they look humanoid as they navigate easily through the corridors of power, but who knows? At least initially, there are few clues or thoughtful explanations, and too much is assumed of the readership. This lack of setup early on leaves readers unable to place the characters in the world they inhabit. Malhavco is a genuine evil, though, and once the hard work of piecing together this universe is over, his brutality is as engaging as it is shocking—not satisfied with simply ruining humanity, he rapes women and kills any man that he can. Luckily for America, Gozer has another mode besides wanton evil and he aligns himself against his brother for the sake of the American dream. The novel’s climax is much stronger than its opening, but the journey between the two is fraught with the highs of the novel’s hard-boiled prose and the difficulties of its breezy exposition. Despite this, the thematic tug of war between nihilism and hope is pitch-perfect for millennial America, and the novel offers a message that boldly aligns on the side of optimism.
An imaginatively veiled political allegory that will please the most generous science-fiction fans.