- Mass Market Paperback: 459 pages
- Publisher: Pocket (January 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0671885979
- ISBN-13: 978-0671885977
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.1 x 4.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,872,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Whitley Streiber's Aliens Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1999
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Whitley Strieber was chosen to edit `Aliens', but unfortunately did not add a short story of his own. However, you will find such talent as Edward Lee, Gary Braunbeck, David Silva, P.D. Cacek, and Don D'Ammassa; twenty-one tales in all that will entertain, amuse, and sometimes frighten you.
Forget about the movie aliens, these are intruders who sometimes look like us, sometimes mean us harm and sometimes don't, are sometimes stupid and sometimes smart, but always have an uncanny interest in this little blue ball called Earth. They are here, and the reasons are abundant.
With Braunbeck's `In Hollow Houses', a child is saved from an abusive household. In Nina Kiriki Hoffman's `Radiance', you can donate your body to the aliens by checking a box on your drivers license. Find out how an alien who travels from body to body keeps track of his human lover in James Robert Smith's `A Last, Longing Look'. Mix aliens and compulsive gambling and you get John B. Rosenman's `Even Saints And Angels'. Follow some lost and friendly crash-landers through acceptance and then rejection in Cindie Geddes' `Guessing At The Unknown' (my favorite). Alien or angel? Edward Lee's `Scripture Girl' holds the answer. Contemplate how aliens will use us in the afterlife with Adam-Troy Castro's `Fuel'. Don D'Ammassa's `Realizations' ponders an alien visitor as a sneaky jail-breaker or miracle baby, and P.D. Cacek's `Fireflies' tiptoes through the cruelties of a little girl being crippled, and how she can unwittingly cripple in return.
Altogether, this is a pleasing and versatile collection of old-fashioned, sci-fi based alien tales, and to me, extremely welcomed proof that horror comes from the inside. Though a few others have mentioned being disappointed in the lack of overt horror, I welcome a collection that allows these multitalented writers the freedom to stretch their scorched and blackened wings, allowing them to occasionally shimmer like gossamer mantles in this cold, alien light. Enjoy!
Well, it wasn't terribly good overall. There were a couple that had elements that were intriguing. Specifically, "Radience" by Nina Hoffman, "Jolene's Motel" by Esther Friesner, "The Glassy Apes" by Tracy Knight, and elements of "Realizations" by Don D'Ammassa. Of the 21 stories here, those four were the ones that had something in there of value. I really only enjoyed "Radience"... the rest were tedious but at least somewhat original.
As for the others in this collection, it feels really phoned in, perhaps rushed. Half-concieved. Almost all of them are artificially melodramatic, with things like rape, revenge murder, drug abuse, and insanity awkwardly sweezed in to fill up space. I know these are horror writers, but in almost every situation, you don't care for the characters or their objectives, nor do you fear for their lives - the effort isn't put in to endear the characters or flesh them out before placing them in peril. I genuinely cannot remember a single defining trait of any of the characters. "Jolene's Motel" less so - you actually get to know the characters very well - but this comes at the expense of any compelling developments in the story. Indeed, that and many other stories feel like the beginning stages of a larger story that never made it past the first chapter, and are thus hugely unsatisfying and anticlimactic.
Another thing that bugged me was the way almost every male character in this collection was a hilariously amoral wife-beater, rapist, or obsessed violence-fueled monster. I think this was done to build up drama, but what you get is a collection of stories about how terrible these guys and husbands are and how they must be killed for the good of us all. It's just weird. Who would find that entertaining? It's not even a set up for something 99% of the time. There will just be an abusive male character present who terrorizes the protagonist until she kills him.
Disappointing, unfortunately. If you see this book at a store somewhere, though, it's worth reading the amazingly phoned-in introduction by Whitley Striber. You can tell he did not read a single story or even know what the introduction was for, beyond "a book about aliens." THAT part, is genuinely really funny.