The little blurb promising a creative and unusual “alien” mystery thriller just leaped out at me from the back cover and compelled me to snatch this one up from a book sale.
Author : Frank M. Robinson
Date of First Publication : April 1999 (Hardcover)
Publisher : Forge
Date of Publication for This Edition : April 2000 (Mass Paperback)
Publisher : Tor Books
No. of Pages : 347
The Story :
Suppose there were a society of aliens whose existence we know nothing about, living among us for over 35,000 years? What if they look like us, talk like us, and have imbibed all cultural nuances to seem human? What if they were your best friend, your nice next-door neighbour, or your teacher at school?
This isn’t your average UFO invasion/ body-snatcher story. The creatively original concept here is that the aliens in our midst are hominids but not homo sapiens; rather they are a different species, who almost lost the fight for survival some 35,000 years ago and have learned to assimilate with the dominant species, us, in order to survive, albeit in small clusters, waiting for the time when they, too, shall have dominion over the earth.
Participating in an autopsy of a sixty- plus- year-old male who died in accident, Dr. Larry Shea makes this exciting but unfortunate discovery. The victim possess muscles, bones, and inner organs which were as healthy and strong as a those of a thirty year old. Measurements of the cranium, heart, etc. are also significantly different from humans, so that he concludes that the man was not a man after all — not within the biological parameters of homo sapiens. Dr. Shea prepares to share his discovery with his friends in the Suicide Club, an organization among a group of professionals whose ties go back to their younger, reckless days. But, he is murdered before he is able to do so.
Artie and Mitch, two friends from the club, decide to investigate his mysterious death. Soon, they discover the bizarre and terrifying reason and become the next targets while other members are picked off, one by one, as well. The killer must be part of the club and they must find him before they become victims, themselves.
The Review :
With the aliens assuming an anthropological nature, Frank Robinson does a refreshingly clever and original take on the tired and hackneyed aliens theme with “Waiting“. This time the aliens are of our earth, just a different branch of the homo genus.
With this unique concept, Robinson blends in a whodunit theme and crafts this sci-fi mystery thriller with a deft hand. He opens the book with a strange murder and proceeds to compel our reading through skillful manipulation of plot events so that, as one with the main character, Artie, the reader isn’t quite sure whom to trust as well.
Frank Robinson writes like a typical man would — straightforward and decisive. His characters seem pretty much like his writing, too — not given to much sentimentality and exuding a no-nonsense quality that would appeal to a lot of male readers.
There is a very strong environmental message in this book, being that man and his activities are the prime factors for various ecological collapses. Furthermore, nature has its own way of addressing its own survival and so as prime factors of destruction, it may well serve us to take serious heed.
Robinson concludes the novel with a good twist to render this book, a very enjoyable read.
My Mark : Very Good