The Green and the Gray
by Timothy Zahn
Review by Ann Cecil

The Green and the Gray is a fantasy novel set in and around modern-day New York City, but it is a New York with unexpected layers.

On a cold night, Roger and Caroline Whittier are coming home from a play, when the streetlights begin to flicker and fail in odd patterns. A strange, dwarfishly short man with a shiny gun forces them into an alley and bids them take care of an injured 12-year girl. They get her home, and call 911 but when the cops arrive, the girl has vanished from their bed-room. convinced that they were responsible for George Bush's reelection, are

Slowly, Roger and Caroline learn that New York has been home for the last 75 years to some really odd refugees; two groups, one calling themselves Greens, and one Grays, who came here from another world. One group has 'powers' and the other has hi-tech gadgets; enemies on their home world, they have carried their feud here. The girl is the focus of the struggle, in a twisted way. Factions within the two groups are planning to use measures to end the struggle that will incidentally wipe out a lot of innocent by-standers: all of New York City's inhabitants.

As Roger and Caroline, normal humans with no special powers, try valiantly to understand what's going on and find help to cope with the struggle and prevent the fatal battle, they also have to cope with some major marital miscommunications of their own. They find an ally in a tough New York cop, along with members of both Greens and Grays who want a peaceful solution to their struggle. In the final scenes, Roger has a surprising insight that changes the perspective for both sides, and allows a wrap-up without too much bloodshed.

Zahn does action well (he's written a number of Star Wars novels) and handles military actions with expertise (he also wrote a number of Cobra novels). He writes convincingly of Roger and Caroline's marital discord; all his characters are interesting, and the narrative is surprisingly compelling, even though several of the plot twists were fairly obvious to me.


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