Finally, a book for the left!
I’ve grown tired with right-leaning sausage-grinders. I’ve also grown tired of the old plotline, that aliens who come to earth have a hidden agenda. I got through Live Free Or Die with bleeding eyeballs. So it’s nice, sometime, when aliens ARE beneficial, when communication and coexistence and cooperation actually work. It’s just too bad that in doing so, The Serene Invasion loses a bit of its edge.
The the race we name as the Serene come to Earth and make big changes. I’m not sure why they dome some of our cities, since they quickly remove the domes. But one thing they do change is the ability of man to harm man. No longer can you pull a trigger, a knife, or otherwise slap, punch, throttle, burn, or do any of the other things that help define Hell as Other People. And this really works out well in the sort term for Sally Walsh (about to be beheaded by Islamic terrorists) and Ana Devi (an Indian street-rat who is about to be raped by a huge fat crimelord). But it doesn’t go so well for James Morwell (super-rich gun-manufacturer and resource-plunderer who also likes slappy-sex). So nothing will be the same.
The book follows the course of history (through our characters) as things on Earth settle down to the way people like me (Wellsian Utopiaists) wish it would. And while that’s nice, it’s a bit too nice. And here’s where I think author Eric Brown* blew it. Not all human sorrow derives from physical hitting. There is psychological abuse, anger issues (though it turns out formerly-super-rich James Morwell suffers this), and good old human conflict. The various couples that bask in the sunlit highlands of this new world are simply too nice (and I’ve always said that if someone tells you that they and their partner never fight, then someone is hitting someone). For example, when Sally Walsh and her husband consider emigrating to Mars (it is more like moving to another country – the Serene have easily terriformed it into something like Southern England), they have a quiet and respectful series of discussions about it, doing little more than collectively worrying about the effect this will have on their daughter (laughable for me, given then I’m a Navy Brat and moved something like a dozen times as a kid and nobody worried about that). This, I think, was where the book missed its mark a bit – how about some tense disagreement? How about some out-and-out dirty fighting. I can believe that violence can be curtailed. I just don’t think screaming arguments would. And those are the sorts of things that promote drama, conflict, and that oh-so-interesting resolution.
Still, it was a relaxing, enjoyable book, and its nice to watch the right (with its bold two-fisted, individualist-bent heroes) get pushed around for once.
* Poor Eric Brown. I busted his collection of Jules Verne stories. And now I’m giving him flak here. If I’m found stabbed by a pen, someone please pass this webpage to the investigating authorities…