Alien Invasion: The Storm
by Dean Giles
Invasion literature has been around since The
Battle for Dorking, first published in 1871. In 1892, Robert Potter wrote and
published The Germ Growers, probably the first book of an alien invasion, but
when H. G. Wells extrapolated on that popular genre with The War of the Worlds in
1898, the alien invasion genre really took off and has been part of the scifi landscape
And the genre has given us aliens of all types, from huge creatures with powerful weapons to the body replicators of Who Goes There? Dean Giles, in his novella-length initial installment of his series, gives us something different. While reminiscent of Hollywood's The Blob, (where the producers probably got their concept from some well-documented cases at that time of a mysterious gel-like substance commonly thought to have come from outer space), Giles' alien(s) are/is a hive-like sentient being looking like so much algae.
The story revolves around Leon, a prisoner sentenced for beating to death the young man who killed his wife. Soon to be released from prison, he only wants to get back to his son, Elliott. In solitary when the alien makes the jump from a fly-by comet to the earth, he escapes the first attacks. Released when a guard needs his help to survive, Leon's sole drive is to get back to Elliott.
Giles writing style is right to the point without too much extraneous sidetracking. This keeps the flow fast and furious. The action in the story is direct, descriptive, and actually quite visual.
Giles also uses the familial bond to create an empathy for the protagonist. Although in prison for killing a young man, Leon is a "good guy," only there because the victim killed his wife in cold blood. And Leon's overwhelming concern after leaving the prison is for his son. In some ways, this might be a shallow attempt to pull at the readers' heartstrings, but Giles pulls this off masterfully with none of the contrived emotions for which I have criticized in other reviews. In this case, it works, and works well.
Although a stand-alone tale on its own, this first installment of what looks to be along and fascinating story reminds me of the scifi magazines of years gone by, where novellas were more popular, where stories told over a period of issues were the norm. Also buttressed by the alien invasion theme, I get the feeling of a Golden Age of Science Fiction story here, despite the story's thoroughly modern setting.
This was a pleasure to read, and I look forward to reading more about Leon and Elliott's adventures.
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