Books : reviews

J. D. Austin.
Second Contact.
Ace. 2001

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 17 July 2006

Humanity sends a space ship to an alien planet, only to be rebuffed with a missile across the bows. So they go back, a little more forcefully. But it had all been a misunderstanding due to a nasty outbreak of volcanic rash, and they get on much better the next time. Except now the locals are at war. Maybe.

This is light fluff, with some of Austin's usual trademark hobbyhorses: how great it is to go in the military if you are poor, and how great it is to be American. It all romps along in the usual disjointed style, and made good mindless fodder for a train journey.

J. D. Austin.
Bobby's Girl.
Ace. 2001

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 28 April 2001

Kathy Miller loves her job as script girl on hot young director Bobby Albertson's new action film. L.A. is a great place to hide from her enemies -- for she is really the alien General Ket Mhulhar, disguised with some radical surgery to look human, on the run after the overthrow of Thradon. But she soon comes to realise all her new earth friends are in great danger, for her enemies can't be far behind her.

This is all a bit disjointed: it can't seem to decide whether it's a comic romp, a political treatise, or a guerrilla war handbook. But there are some good scenes, the action moves along at a brisk pace for the most part, and quite a lot of clichés are neatly avoided.

Good fun fluff.

J. D. Austin.
Meet the Thradons!.
Ace. 2005

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 12 September 2005

Bobby and Kathy are now married, and go back to meet her folks: not the inlaws, but an entire planet of aliens! Bobby plans to introduce culture to these otherwise highly advanced people, but a local uprising and an (other) alien invasion put some plans on hold. And how will he cope with his wife back in her beloved military?

This has a rather clunky and a somewhat preachy writing style: okay, so we are shown that Bobby is a patriotic American; we don't need some extra leaden paragraphs to be told it, too. And some of the plot points are straight out of the '50s: how can you people be so technically advanced, yet never have invented popcorn? -- our women have given up wearing skirts except for formal occasions (Mars Needs Women flashbacks about neckties, anyone?). These mar potentially interesting culture clash situations: the parts about translating Hamlet for an alien audience could have been taken much further.