Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Invasion - Luke Rhinehart

I read Dice Man years ago, way back in the 70’s or 80s, I can’t remember exactly. But I do remember enjoying it immensely and being fascinated by its premise. But I can’t honestly say I’ve ever given Luke Rhinehart a further thought since then and it isn’t that he’s been inactive, with nine novels to his name, but none of them passed within my radar ……. until now.

I was fascinated when I received a copy of Invasion from Nudge Books. It was with real enthusiasm and anticipation that I began to read it. And for the most part I wasn’t disappointed. For in the passage of time between Dice Man and Invasion Mr. Rhinehart has lost none of his punch.

This is E.T. for the digital age, Gremlins in reverse. An invasion of aliens, cute little balls of fur who can morph into a variety of shapes and are extremely intelligent, invade the lives of Billy Morton and his family. What follows is an often hilarious account of the ‘mischief’ these little fur balls get up to if, indeed, hacking into government and corporate computer systems can be seen as ‘mischief’! And that’s just for starters.

You can enjoy this book on just that level; an imaginative science fiction tale of an alien invasion that is lots of fun. Fluffy little aliens who just want to have a good time and play. However you are missing a lot if you leave it there.

For this is a biting satire on the world we live in, with particular reference to American life, politics and military policies. Rhinehart shows no mercy in an almost savage indictment of how badly wrong humans have got  it. And it almost becomes Rhinehart soapbox under the guise of a sci fi novel.

The structure is not a straightforward chapter divide. Each chapter comprises either extracts from Billy Morton’s book My Friend Louie, The Official History of the Alien Invasion, A Report of the Invasion, News Items and on the whole it works. I sometimes found though that I just wanted to ‘get on with the story’ which I found was the chapters of Billy Morton’s book. 

The main characters are all accessible, likeable and believable, which is maybe something of a contradictor given the sci fi premise of the book. Sometimes I found it hard to distinguish between some of the aliens, I had to refer back to names and roles.

I  found the political allusions elusive as they were about American politics of which I know little. But my biggest problem with the book was that I found it over long. I struggled with the last hundred pages because it seemed for me, what needed to be said had been said, the point had been made and made well. The conclusion was suitably open ended leaving room for a sequel. I’m not sure that’s a good idea and I’m not sure yet if I will hunger to read it. Maybe I’ll just throw a dice to decide?!

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