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The Secret City: A Novel

2 Ratings: 3.5
A book by Carol Emshwiller

From Publishers Weekly  Emshwiller (Mister Boots) avoids human-alien first contact clichés in this stark novel about two aliens, Lorpas and Allush, stranded on Earth. Fifty years earlier, their parents came to visit Earth—and waited in vain … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Science Fiction, First Contact, Carol Emshwiller
Author: Carol Emshwiller
Publisher: Tachyon Publications (April 1, 2007)
1 review about The Secret City: A Novel

A Decent First Contact Novel

  • Mar 22, 2009
  • by
The Secret City is a unique first contact novel. A small group of aliens from the planet they call Betasha, are stranded on Earth and do everything they can to avoid humans finding out about their presence. Expecting imminent rescue, the aliens settle in with their children. But as time goes on, and no rescue comes, the children grow up on Earth and are caught in a cultural middle, really belonging to neither their home plant or earth.

This story picks up clearly many years after the aliens are stranded as its main characters are the children of the first "tourists," Lopas, Allush and Youpas. The aliens have built a "secret city" in the mountains somewhere that appears to be the Western part of the United States and are in hiding. Lopas, on the other hand, is living among the fringes of human society, essentially passing himself off as a bum or handyman.

Then, rescue comes in the form of their Betashan compatriots but it is an unwanted rescue. After escaping from being snatched back to his home planet Lopas makes his way to the secret city where he encounters Allush and a few of his kind from the older generation, and the young, wild Youpas. The story turns as they all struggle to determine what they want to do and what they should do as the opportunity to return to their planet has presented itself.

Told from the points of view of Lopas and Allush, the story is intriguing and interesting, although at times a bit too plodding. While solid in terms of writing, literary value, and evoking empathy for the characters, it falls short of being excellent.

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