ALIEN, I by Pamela Barlow


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Potentially intriguing stylistic choices instead form a knot of incomprehensible prose in this convoluted sci-fi tale.

Starra Starbuck is a farmer on a polluted future Earth where human life is rapidly being driven to extinction by natural disasters. As one of the planet’s six potential psychics, Starra is drafted into an expedition to find a new home for humankind in a distant galaxy. The journey ends in disaster when the ship bursts open en route and only Starra survives. She successfully lands the craft on an alien planet, where she is pleased to find all the computers are programmed in English. Quickly resigning herself to the inevitable death of all her friends on Earth, Starra blithely steals a ship and jets off to an interplanetary poker competition. Her ensuing adventures–during which the environmental message of the narrative falls off the radar–are marred by malapropisms, grammatical errors and sloppy syntax. Starra’s narration is peppered with an excess of bland adjectives–one typical sentence describes three items as “blue” and three as “brown.” Constant repetitions of the phrase, “I sighed with,” to indicate emotion only contribute to the choppiness; Starra sighs with, among other things, “grit,” “confidence,” “determination” and “surprise.”

A trick ending–in which the final three quarters of the book is revealed to have been only a (possibly prophetic) dream–cheapens the already broken tale. (Science fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 23rd, 2005
ISBN: 0-595-35799-7
Program: Kirkus Indie
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