An Irish farmer becomes a pawn in an interplanetary conflict in Hauck’s uproarious fiction debut.
As this story opens, a poor, well-intentioned Irish farmer named Sean Patrick O’Meara awakens in the middle of a mysterious crop circle, and it’s not the first time he’s done so. Sean has had recurring nightmares about being abducted by aliens, which has led to predictable needling from locals in the nearby village. But he has proof: otherworldly chocolates that he’s brought back from his hazily remembered space adventures. Back on Earth, Sean confronts the nefarious village priest, Father Murphy, and Sister Mary Phitz, an enigmatic nun who’s far, far more than she seems: she’s an undercover interplanetary agent from the planet Lyleith, where a utopian society of cloned women long ago exiled men to Earth, which they call “Eden.” The women of Lyleith enjoy prosperity, peace, and the respect of the rest of the galaxy. But Phitz, who’s been biologically engineered to be a “paragon of virtue,” is surprised to discover that Father Murphy has visited her perfect home world. The serenity of Lyleith has also been disrupted by covert groups of women embarking on “fertility safaris” to Earth. Her former sisters kidnap her at the same time they kidnap poor Sean, and the two find themselves unlikely allies as Hauck hurtles the narrative forward. The text of this novel is somewhat sloppy at times (“immerged” for “emerged”; “lightening” for “lightning”). However, the storytelling here is assured, the characterization sharp (the tarnishing of Phitz’s priggish innocence is a particular highlight), and the humor infectiously bawdy (“You do have a special gift for pissing people off, don’t you?” Phitz asks Sean). The end result is an odd but highly readable sci-fi romp.
A fun-house mirror version
of The Handmaid’s Tale, with extra-potent chocolates thrown in.