NESFA Members' Reviews


by Robert J. Sawyer

Ace, ISBN 0-441-00476-8, 1997, 292pp, US$21.95

A book review by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 1998 Evelyn C. Leeper

Robert Sawyer has changed gears a bit for this novel. Rather than an analytic look at the existence of souls or the implications of genetic testing or a tour of the cosmos, he gives us a here a classic first contact situation that rapidly becomes a murder mystery. I found myself thinking of Isaac Asimov's science fiction mysteries, and this is a worthy successor in the genre.

We start with a spaceship that lands in the Atlantic Ocean. It turns out to be disabled and, after communication is established, arrangements are made for the Tosoks to exchange their advanced technology for our help in making repairs. All is going along splendidly until a human turns up dead, and it appears as though he was killed by a Tosok.

There is a lot of "courtroom procedural" here as well, and I can't help but wonder if this was inspired somewhat by the Simpson trial. (Sawyer has his characters make reference to it, which seems to support this.) On one hand, this gets a bit heavy-handed at times. On the other hand, I think this could be made into a very interesting movie. (Not that it would be, knowing movie-makers, but it *could* be, a la WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION or even TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.)

ILLEGAL ALIEN is an enjoyable mystery, a bit lighter than Sawyer's recent works, but certainly worth a read.

%T      Illegal Alien
%A      Robert J. Sawyer
%C      New York
%D      December 1997
%I      Ace
%O      hardback, US$21.95
%G      ISBN 0-441-00476-8
%P      292pp

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