Alien visitors and a masquerader: a book and a TV season

THE VISITORS by Clifford Simak is a frustrating one in that there’s a lot I like about it but damn, the dialog is horrible. Even in the middle of a quasi-alien invasion everyone’s rational — nobody panics or gets excited, they just sit and discuss policy and options.

The story concerns a series of giant oblong ships/creatures descending on the United State and eating wood. Nobody knows why at first; before long it’s clear that they’re eating so they can reproduce. We can’t seem to hurt them and they don’t attack unless we strike first but still … what happens if they eat our forests? What if they don’t stop with forests? What’s their next move going to be?

This plays out at various levels: among the locals in the small Minnesota town where the first aliens arrive; in Washington DC as they figure out how to respond and whether to seek help from the rest of the world; at a Minnesota daily newspaper. Simak was a long-time newspaper guy (maybe that’s why there’s no mention of TV news) and the paper scenes feel very real — getting stories and photos in time for the next edition, figuring angles, wondering after a few weeks if the aliens are no longer compelling front-page news. Complicating everything is that we can’t find a way to communicate with the aliens so everything we learn about them is a guess.

I’m a Simak fan and I think the novel, overall, is excellent. But the dialog is not.

The second season of YOUNGER has Liza and Josh recalibrating their relationship following twentysomething Josh learning at the finish of S1 that his girlfriend is actually 14 years older than he is (I find it amusing that’s one year less than the gap between me and TYG). Josh hates lying about it to everyone else (Liza: “He’s honest — that’s one of the habits I want to break him of.”); Liza’s daughter has returned from a trip abroad and is shocked Mom’s getting it on with this hot young guy; and Liza still has to hide the truth from her coworkers.

In addition to the romantic complications, Liza’s work buddy Kelsey gets to launch her own imprint at Empirical Books targeting millennials like her and Liza which poses it’s own set of challenges; the arc dealing with one obnoxious influencer was really funny. Finally everything comes crashing down on Liza but only to prove that even though her life is built on a lie, it’s real: when she quits Empirical everyone’s miserable. It was a nice finish to the season. I do think they lost the thread of Liza’s roommate Maggie and Kelsey’s buddy Lauren hooking up, but perhaps they’ll pick it up in S3. “May I have a slice of your pain?”

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1 Comment

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One response to “Alien visitors and a masquerader: a book and a TV season

  1. Pingback: Small-town Hitchcock, Evil Superman and some TV viewed | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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