After slow-moving aliens conquer Earth, a family man and his friends adapt to being wandering survivors in Brazilian author Ferreira’s debut novel.
This alien invasion story’s clever conceit is that its onslaught of E.T.s takes place in slow motion. One day, a large number of giant spaceships set down, callously squashing Earth cities and towns, and then nothing happens for a year as humanity’s weapons prove absolutely useless against the impassive, monolithic machines. Then, bit by bit, the invaders emerge, revealing themselves as noncommunicative giant-sized humanoids whose only perceptible features are two bulging eyes atop their heads—thus earning them the nickname “frogfaces.” They’re handily able to disintegrate humans or halt them with force fields and somehow abduct victims en masse into their growing settlements. However, the aliens don’t venture far from their strongholds and remain peculiarly sluggish compared with the interplanetary threats imagined by other authors, such as H.G. Wells and Larry Niven. Albert is a former biology teacher who takes to the road with his family and neighbors after Earth’s superpowers collapse following failed campaigns against the aliens. As a new class of nomads in large wagons, they must scavenge for food and allies while outrunning alien squads and fighting renegade humans called “pirates.” The word “pastoral” is seldom used in association with alien invasion yarns, but it’s the adjective that comes to mind when reading this novel. With its occasional breaks for guitar music jams and cookouts, the atmosphere of this story is nearer to a Laura Ingalls Wilder tale of crossing a perilous prairie than hard-combat sci-fi. Ultimately, Albert and his allies hit upon a vital flaw in the aliens’ armor that proves the malevolent intruders are neither as well prepared nor as invulnerable as they seem. In the meantime, though, Ferreira shows that life goes on, with tales of teenage offspring falling in love against parental wishes and other standard dramas.
A hypokinetic alien attack tale sets a nonstandard
pace for the sci-fi genre.