THE SINGING: A Fable About What Makes Us Human by Theron Raines

THE SINGING: A Fable About What Makes Us Human

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One lunchtime, Mary Alice, a sweet young advertising copywriter for Schuyler & Blitz in New York, stands in the Guggenheim Museum peacefully contemplating an ad campaign based on quotations from Spinoza when the love of her life--a Martian, as it happens--comes crashing through the museum skylight, sweeps her off her feet, and attempts to change her destiny, and ours--in a slight but charming first novel-cum-essay by a well-known New York literary agent. 4-S-T, or Forrest, as Mary Alice hears him introduce himself, looks human--except that he also looks exactly like three other red-headed young men who climb down the ladder behind him from the saucer-shaped contraption that has broken through the skylight. Mary Alice figures they're making a movie, but they're not: they're searching for wives, and Forrest has spotted his--Mary Alice--from orbit over Central Park. After a brief courtship, they marry; Mary Alice becomes pregnant right away, according to plan, just as the wives of Forrest's fellow Martians do: their hope is to establish a new Martian ""mindstream,"" or blissful collective of shared Martian-human memory and thought, on earth, and so cure earthlings of loneliness and death, and Martians of the slow diminution of their race on a sterile planet. Trouble is, it doesn't work: Mary Alice's baby begins by emitting clear, fine Martian frequencies in the womb, but in the second month the humming falls off into ""the hit or miss cycle of mere earth genius,"" and Forrest--along with his fellow Martians, whose babies suffer the same fate--must go home, their mission failed, or die. His parting gift to Mary Alice (besides a huge insurance policy and some canny stock investments) is a little Martian toy that will transmit fragments of thought from the warm Martian mindstream back to the ""singing"" of the deathbound earth. Much meditation on the human condition from Forrest, who can read the solitary, fearful, mortal thoughts not only of humans but of fish and worms and geese, too. In fact, too much meditation, but in a lighthearted, charming, quick-witted, sweet-spirited ship it's a pleasure to take a brief ride on.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1988
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly--dist. by Little, Brown