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A Mirror for Observers Hardcover – November 1, 2004
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Two thirds of the way through the book, there's a passage that has brought me to tears each time I've read it, though I've forgotten most of the book between readings. When I encounter the passage, I remember it. I guess I'm just a sucker for sentimentality, if it's well-written, and Pangborn can turn a phrase when he has to. I suppose he's a bit preachy, but it's hard to think of a gentler, more likeable group of aliens among us that the Martians who have observed our civilization since its beginnings. The only thing I can't figure out is, if they only invented the telephone a few years before Bell did, how did they get here?
In the first part of the book, Namir attempts to use Angelo, age 12 at this point, for his own purposes. He tries to make him hate humanity, but Elmis consistently thwarts his attempts with the help of Sharon, a young girl who likes Angelo. Namir does manage to force Angelo to run away, and thus separate him from Elmis.
In the second section of the book, time has moved forward 9 years, and we see the end of Elmis' search for Angelo, who now goes by the name Abraham Brown. Once again Namir is attempting to use Angelo, and once again Elmis works to stop him. Namir does manage to release a disease which threatens to depopulate the Earth.
This is a solid book, and the potential use of biological weapons to depopulate the planet, is certainly one of the concerns in today's environment of terrorism. While "Davy" is probably Pangborn's best known work, "A Mirror for Observers" is certainly a worthy runner-up
I give it a lower rating than some people would, because (a) I read it for the first time just now, in the 21st century, not in its proper context, and (b) I personally prefer happier stories.
I noticed quite a few typos in the Kindle edition; apparently the book wasn't thoroughly proof-read after scanning. This is merely an annoyance that doesn't really interfere with understanding the text. However, the free books in Project Gutenberg generally seem to have been better checked than this one was. Need I comment further?
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The idea of aliens from outer space clandestinely living among us, and...Read more