Greetings, aliens!: (do pop in for tea) by Richard F Walker
|Greetings, aliens!: (do pop in for tea) by Richard F Walker|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: An enjoyable romp occurs when an alien communication to Earth interrupts a birthday party. Fun read with a cast of eccentric characters and lots of laughs along the way.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 223||Date: April 2022|
Anything can happen at a birthday party, particularly when the birthday boy is the young Lord of the Manor. But when an eerie signal is picked up in the early hours, George and his new girlfriend, the vivacious Lady Antonia, embark on a quest to uncover its incredible message. Things get complicated when some total spoilsport lets the cat out of the bag and the world goes into a state of panic.
Could it be? Could it? Have aliens reached out and contacted Earth? George and Antonia find themselves lifted out of their privileged lives of parties and drunken shenanigans and catapulted into the world of advanced science, secret agents and politicians hungry for power. Because yes, it is an alien communication and not only is a Nobel Prize up for grabs but the Prime Minister could also do with a boost in the polls. But George and Antonia aren't alone: there's Rupert, the lecturer who takes every joke just that little bit too far, Professor Truth, with her OCD and endless packs of tissues, Hamid, the driver who is also a technical whizzkid and even a rogue MI6 agent. It's hardly a dream team, but the underdogs never are, are they?
Oh, I did enjoy this story. I was expecting the plot to run along a mystery as to whether George's array had genuinely received an otherworldly alien communication or if the whole thing was going to be a banana skin of hilarity and the whole thing turned out to be some aristocratic hubris or other. And indeed, initially even the powers that be suspect a hoax. But no, the fun and games is all about who gets to take the credit for this discovery and the concomitant Nobel Prize. It is very funny in a Keystone Cops kind of way, as our characters set out to foil the credit-appropriators at the top of the power pyramid.
There's a good-sized cast of characters - not too many to make it difficult to keep up but enough to provide the sniggering reader with a range of hapless eccentricities and covert identities. I won't tell you who is exactly who they appear to be and who isn't, but suffice to say that you'll get some surprise reveals along the way. George, the central character, a Woosterish aristocratic buffoon whose insights are as shallow as puddles at the beginning, was a favourite as he is probably on the biggest voyage of discovery. But I also enjoyed Geoffrey, the long-suffering butler, and Professor Truth, whose OCD masks a sharp and enquiring mind.
There are plenty of jokes along the way but also there is serious comment about politics and power and corruption, and social class, pointedly done but without spoiling the fun. Greetings, aliens! is an enjoyable read, perfect for a summer's afternoon.
If you want to read some serious fiction about our search for alien contact, you could try Existence by David Brin.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Greetings, aliens!: (do pop in for tea) by Richard F Walker at Amazon.com.