Alien Bootlegger and Other Stories
by Rebecca Ore
Review by James Walton

The stories in this collection all have three underlying themes.

First, there are aliens in all the stories, either from other planets or artificially grown, which the humans in the book must react to for various reasons.

Secondly, the aliens all want to be human.

And third, all the humans are stranger than the aliens.

In the title story, a space alien buys a house in the hills of Virginia, a county where the chief industry is moonshine. Under the protection of the US State Department, the alien immediately sets up his own still, produces a superior product, and undercuts the human competition.

Of course the humans don't roll over and play dead. This story is about the humans, not the alien. All of them react to the alien in odd ways, perhaps driven mad by the aliens presence.

Two of the stories in this collection, "The Tyrant That I Serve," and "Giant Flesh Holograms Keep My Baby's Eyes Warm," are based on the same idea, but told from different perspectives. The rich (who are different from us) are able to buy pets grown to their own specifications. Usually these pets are nominally humanoid, with wings, claws, whatever strikes the owners fancy. Unfortunately, these chimera are usually more intelligent than the owners can comprehend and that leads to disaster. In both Tyrant and Giant the chimera want to be "real boys."

The other three stories book are about space aliens who try to fit into Human society. The rub is, these aliens were considered crazy in their own societies. Why do they think coming to Earth will suddenly make them sane?

Ms. Ore's writing has always reminded me of the work of Terry Bisson. Take that as you will.

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