Wednesday, March 07, 2007

All Flesh Is Grass - Clifford D Simak

Check out the cover - not only does it have a great big "10p" scrawled across it, indicating its bargain-bin origins, it also shows a great space battle! Exploding ships over a distant planet! The illustrator was clearly not bothered that no spaceships feature within, and just went for the generic sci-fi approach, despite this book's actual subject of peaceful flower-like aliens appearing from another dimension. It's still pretty pulpy, but not quite as bad as you'd expect from the outside.

Starting off with a clumsy flashforward/flashback sequence, Simak tells us of a small-town guy, Brad, whose business is about to go bankrupt, and whose town is suddenly cut off from the world by a giant forcefield of Unknown Origin. Predictable hijinks ensue - the local lawman is a swaggering bully, the elderly doctor can't cope when cut off from the hospital, and Our Hero's childhood sweetheart was back in town when it got cut off. Brad ends up meeting the aliens in their parallel dimension, and despite being unsure about their motivation, agrees to become their spokesperson on Earth, which leads the townspeople to believe he's in league with them...

The story is quite well written, but unfortunately not that interesting. The aliens and their technology seem to mostly consist of lazy plot devices, and the resolution is rather makeshift and unsatisfactory; Simak's written much better books than this, and here he's just phoning it in. While not an actively unpleasant read, it lacks teeth and it lacks character. Still, for 10p, I can't really complain; I'd probably even have paid 50p for it. A pound might be pushing it though.



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