Belligerent states on Earth get their just deserts from an intergalactic enforcer in Roberto’s sci-fi thriller.
Robert Benson—astrophysicist, quantum mechanics expert, professor, survivor, narrator—first experienced a visitation to Earth by an alien emissary from the Association of Planets in 1951, when he was nine years old. Though distant, the Association was troubled by Earth’s warring tendencies and sought to bring peace. But the American government was in no mood—politicians and their military-industrial cronies were getting rich off war. When the emissary leaves, the government viciously works to erase all memory of the visit. In particular, it persecutes Benson’s mother, who had become close of the emissary, Klaatu. Benson, now 70, is on hand to witness the consequences as the Association sends a destroyer to wipe out all nuclear capabilities of Earth, and a significant portion of its population. Roberto sets forth the proceedings with a good dash of retro color—a flying saucer and a monster robot complete with helmet-head and visor, “a horrible, but magnificent sight”—plenty of suspense, a disturbing canvas of the world’s nuclear landscape and a fondness for goosey modifiers (“ravening terror”), with the elements working together to develop the pleasing, melodramatic timbre of comic books. Along the way, Benson offers a handful of pointed opinions about lawyers (“the ruin of us all”), how to conduct war (Major Holloway: “[I]t should be waged as such until every last one of your enemy is destroyed…men, women, and children.” Benson: “Well said, Major Holloway.”) and the fathomless evil of politicians. This all makes him an intriguing, complicated figure, to say the least: a libertarian constitutionalist whose farewell speech—he’s off to Muurae, Klaatu’s home planet—could have been written by Orwell: “If the people of Earth fail to proceed along the path of peaceful existence, if you fail to follow the Association of Planets guidelines and regulations toward a new peaceful and prosperous Earth,” well, the peaceniks in the Association will blow you to smithereens.
An uncompromising cautionary tale with bold notions about how the government of Earth ought to conduct itself.