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I didn't really enjoy this book. The narration isn't bad (though the narrator struggles with English accents, which is funny but not distractingly so). It starts off with a really interesting premise, and the characters seem to develop well, and something of an adventure ensues. However, long before the book ever finishes, all this substance seems to really take a back seat to the author's desire to explore his "what ifs" and give us his view. What if there could be no violence of any sort?? Yes, well, the answer, ot rather the way he answers, turns out not to be as interesting as you'd suspect... He goes on to create his own bizarre, and I think unlikely, utopia. At times it feels a bit political, and like he has an agenda, but that isn't really the problem. The problem is that getting his view across in this way seems to trump the story - the plot and characters, etc, seem to fall by the wayside a bit. I had to pressure myself to finish it.
It is easy to be a critic though, I know, and with that in mind, others may not react this way, and would perhaps find his exploration even more interesting than the story it leaves behind.
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Damon Knight is one of the masters of the short stories and short novels from the Golden Age of science fiction. His best work like this takes simple bold ideas, what if's, and anchors it in the mundane and practical.
An alien arrives on our plant and injures himself and is captured. What is he doing here? How is he treated? And is there a connection to the strange incidents and possible diseases that are starting to occur. A small newspaper owner is drawn into the story while investigating what is the military doing in a locked down isolated faculty.
This is a classic story for those who think about government and religion and big ideas and what the world would be like if one simple change were made.
Other stories by Damon Knight include Why Do Birds, A For Anything, and The Man in the Tree. He is also known for the short story To Serve Man.