This book put me to sleep.
I liked it, but it just knocked me out.
I don’t know why – the writing was good. The story was good. The idea was new. But I’d read it and my eyes would flutter and then I’d be in zonkland.
So aliens come, ostensibly to be our buddies, but mostly to search out a threat they’ve perceived. To show us their good intentions, they display cultural art, paintings they’ve done, ones so important that every fleet that goes out carries exact duplicates of them.
But their art is disturbing. When one looks at it, one is affected in ways we might be affected once before the oil (I felt that way for John Martin’s apocalyptic monsterpieces). A picture of a beautiful alien woman might make the viewer horny. A picture of a night sky might fill the onlooker with dread. Of course, humans react to the new and strange as they always have, by hysteria, by mobs, and by bombing (oh, we love our bombs).
One gets the impression that humans have pretty much screwed our world up. This book, written in 1992, takes place in a world warmed by our activities, of dust and failed crops and changed climate. The gods (as we call the aliens) are our last hope (or the antichrist or whatever). When they stay, we’re pissed. When they leave, we’re pissed. When they come back, we’re even more pissed.
I think what slowed it down were the long passages about art, and the viewer’s reaction to the art. I’m not sure if it was calculated or simply the way Mark Geston writes, but I’d be reading and suddenly I was yawning. But don’t get me wrong – it was a good story, one that opens ones eyes (just as art will) to the true beings we are, behind our civilized masks.
I’ll recommend this to my more advanced readers, those most likely to nose around an old bookshop and find this. Let me know what you think.