THE BOOK OF RALPH by Christopher  Steinsvold

THE BOOK OF RALPH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Steinsvold (Topological Models of Belief Logics, 2012) offers a novel about an oddball alien visitor.

In 2021, a message appears on the moon that upsets people the world over. The message is simple—“DRINK DIET COKE”—but the Coca-Cola Company denies responsibility for it. The U.S. government assembles a team to investigate. One of its members is former NASA scientist Markus West, a man with a lifelong fear of encountering aliens. When the team concludes that Coca-Cola had nothing to do with the moon message, the public becomes even more outraged. Exactly one year after the first appearance of the Coke message, a UFO is seen hovering over the White House, and Markus is called in again. The UFO is in the shape of a cylinder and appears to have the markings of a giant Campbell’s soup can. It’s silly, to be sure—but is it dangerous? Soon enough, an alien emerges from the vessel and explains all. Although he’s not quite as slick as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Zaphod Beeblebrox, he’s far more conversant than E.T. He comes to be known as “Ralph,” and although he’s playful and manages to form a bond with Markus, he also brings a warning of much more dangerous aliens to come. But can Ralph be trusted, or is his zaniness simply a distraction? Overall, this novel delivers an unusual take on the alien invasion story, to say the least. Death rays and abductions may be frightening, but would anyone be ready for an extraterrestrial visitor who has a sense of humor? The book’s comedy can be a little on the nose at times; for example, the bad aliens are known as the “Kardashians,” although this supposedly has nothing to do with the reality stars. Still, readers will be carried along by their desire to find out what will happen when the bad aliens arrive, and what part Ralph will wind up playing in the whole affair. It all moves along quite breezily, avoiding many clichés of the alien-invasion genre while still delivering a frightening lesson.

An offbeat tale that’s every bit as unnerving as more traditional sci-fi fare.

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-942546-34-4
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Medallion Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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