Friday, January 10, 2020

An Alien on Crete, by Neal Asher

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(First Contact) An Englishman living in Greece meets a crash-landed alien who needs a little help and has an unexpected request. (11,619 words; Time: 38m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘STomaino+1 (Q&A)

"An Alien on Crete," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 01-02|20, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2020.019 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: I liked Erickson’s calm, measured steps to deal with the alien’s various problems. His steadily awakening intellect raises questions too, such as whether the alien is causing it and whether the changes will persist or not.

The conclusion was quite a surprise, but satisfying because the earlier parts of the story fully supported it.

Con: I didn’t care for the ridiculous assumption that if the government found an alien spacecraft that they’d hide the evidence and imprison anyone who found out about it. Conspiracy-theoretical thinking detracts from the story.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Loved this one! I had a bit of trouble following the end though.

    1. You got the part that Erickson wasn't really human, right? He was a "guardian," created by supreme beings for the purpose of keeping new races from self-destructing. But things on Earth seemed to be getting pretty bad without a guardian getting activated, so the alien was sent to wake him up.

      So Erickson's gradually increasing abilities aren't a gift the alien is giving him; they're his own, innate, abilities gradually turning on as he activates.

      Once he's fully activated, though, he tells the alien that the people who sent it to him were worried for nothing. That the apocalypse was at least 20 years away.

      In the fullness of his power, he looks at the Earth from the outside and concludes that it'll be increasingly hard to conceal his presence from the humans, but that if they learn about him too soon, it'll do terrible harm. So he makes some changes both in subspace and to his physical body. And he tells the alien to come back in 50 years, at which time, presumably, it'll be time to make a more showy appearance.

      It does seem a little thin on details, but maybe that's okay. We don't really understand what changes he makes to the body to make it more robust, nor is it clear why any of this will really make it easier for him to remain concealed.

      Or was there something else that didn't make sense to you? (Or do you think there's something I'm not getting?)