Friday, April 9, 2010

The Grays

The Grays, by Whitley Strieber, is another one of the books that I picked up for "free" during my Alaska cruise last year, purhcased with my free cruise ship allowance.  I bought 6 or 8 books that way and this one was the last one I picked up, not certain I would really be interested in it.  According to the cover blurbs, it would be about aliens that are already here living among us, a subject that just doesn't normally get me excited.

Perhaps that is the main cause of my mediocre reaction to the novel.  The story itself involves a husband and wife who were abducted early in their lives and prepared to reproduce, creating a super-gifted child who would then become the lynchpin between the humans and the aliens.  Meanwhile a young female Air Force officer is plucked from her job in procurement and, due to her amazing ESP powers, is placed with the sole alien that is still alive in captivity.  Yes, the government knows all about the "Grays" as the aliens are called, going back to President Truman, the first president to meet one.  The novel is mostly a science fiction tale but there are large elements of horror in it, as well as some thriller-like adventure especially at the end during the climactic scenes between the aliens and the different factions of humans.

The novel was OK, even pretty interesting for the first half, the half that is more devoted to developing the ideas and the characters of the story.  But then the action-thriller stuff picked up and I found myself hoping the end would arrive sooner.  Parts of the book downright offended me, especially the conspiracy theory parts with the government (actually surprising because I like a good conspiracy story) because it just made the other people look foolish.  And it is obvious that Mr Strieber knows very little about how the US Air Force works.  He throws in a few terms here and there to make it sound good but, really, it sounds like he's picked it up from TV.  His Air Force characters are either corrupted by power or just plain fools.

As usual I did some research on the author after I had completed the book.  He has an interesting past, including what he claims was his own close encounter/abduction with aliens.  He used that material to write his most successful book to date: Communion.  Prior to that he had written horror novels.  Reportedly, The Grays ties in greatly with that abduction work.  Regardless, if alien abduction stories are your bag then you may want to check this out, otherwise I'd look elsewhere.

"A Gun for Dinosaur" was the next story in The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century.  Following on the heals of another dinosaur hunting yarn, this one, written by the much loved L. Sprague De Camp, spends very little time and words on the actual mechanisms and theory of time travel but instead concentrates on the story itself.  Once again we have a company that specializes in taking hunting expeditions back to the age of dinosaurs but this time we get the story from the guide himself and it's a nice style.  The author uses just one storyteller's words, not the preson who he's telling it to.  Sort of like hearing one side of a telephone conversation but you can still get the gist of the entire thing.  Anyway, I really liked this one even though it didn't turn out quite like I expected.

Next up: I'm not really sure this time.  I usually have these things planned but this time I will let my eye travel over the shelves of still-to-be-read books and see what pops.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire