Illegal Alien by Robert J. Sawyer

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Book Information  
AuthorRobert J. Sawyer
TitleIllegal Alien
GenreScience Fiction
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Anonymous
(Mar 27, 2000)

Having read this authors 'Starplex', a thoroughly good space opera romp, and enjoyed it very much, I was looking forward to picking this book off the shelf.

The book starts well with an unidentified alien spacecraft downed in the ocean and the predictable race to see which nation will get there and make contact first. Again predictably it is the Americans who come out on top of that particular wrangle.

Sawyer spends some time building the character of what seems to be a leading player, only to kill him off after 43 pages. This left me felling bereft for a while because no other character was real enough to take his place at this point. It took another couple of chapters to round out other characters sufficiently to maintain my interest.

The aliens, 'Tosoks', are not really solid enough to hold the interest either. They have some unique physical attributes which become more significant towards the end of the story, but in this book at least, Sawyer has a tendency to anthropomorphise, which grates a little.

The mainstay of the book is a murder mystery followed by a courtroom drama.
The murder being the aforementioned dead person, the accused, one of the Tosok aliens, whome you can't believe could have done the deed. This format works as well today as when Earl Stanley Gardner bled it dry with Perry Mason stories... Mind you, I did read a lot of Perry Mason stories when I was younger.

In the absence of the real Perry, we get Dale Rice, an Alabama lawyer who is old enough to have heard what he was called " change from Coloured to Negro to Black to African American ".

In true Perry Mason fashion, we are shown that this guy is no ordinary Lawyer. Nor should he be I suppose, otherwise it would be a pretty dull story, Aliens notwithstanding.

On the whole the book and format work well enough to provide a satisfying read. I is never going to be a real pageturner though.

It is sufficient for a couple of evenings idle reading, an ideal book to take in a jacket pocket to while away the wait for a ski lift.

Meanwhile I await his next book to see if he can get back into the groove.
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