The Grays Mass Market Paperback – May 29 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Vocally, Lang and Vincent Price have a lot in common. While Price reveled in the spooky and sinister, Lang, though he packs a similar, possibly more extensive arsenal, does not hyperbolize, instead using his creep factor to corral the listener into the den of the writer and lets Strieber do the scaring. Strieber, who claimed in 1987's Communion to have been abducted by aliens (or "Grays"), parlays that experience into a yarn about the Grays' ultimate plan, to save themselves and mankind by breeding a human savior: nine-year-old Connor Callahan. The small hitch is that all humans, like Callahan, will be the subject of genetic manipulation. Enter Col. Michael Wilkes, steely government spook willing to kill most of mankind in order to eliminate the Grays. Lang shows great range, conveying each character's anxieties and emotion with élan. Even as the action and horror intensify, and the characters fight for the survival of mankind, Lang is cool as a cucumber-and that makes it all the scarier.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In 1985, Strieber, then a top horror writer, author of The Wolfen 1978) and The Hunger (1981), had an alien-abduction experience. The book he wrote about it, Communion (1987), was so successful that his output of fiction dwindled in the 1990s as he expanded upon his biggest best-seller. Stillborn sequels to The Hunger emerged in 2001 and 2002, but The Grays is a quantum leap back to his fictional form, powered by his newer, nonfiction obsessions. In it aliens--the grays--have been with humanity for a good, long time, for excellent reasons. They've been helping humanity avoid their mistakes, which destroyed their emotions. Now, after a several-million-years journey, the rest of the grays, for whom those among us were pioneers with a purpose, are nearing Earth. Measures crucial to their success have been set in motion, most important among them, the creation of a human child of supernormal intelligence to receive the grays' advanced knowledge. Trouble is, hints of the child's existence had to be made to humans with authority; hence, the Roswell business. And hence, the development of rival factions within the top-secret military operation that guards the Roswell aliens. Strieber manages the plot built on those premises as a breakneck race to find the child and, depending on which faction the characters belong to, protect or destroy it. It's a terrific read, already blocked out like a screenplay for the major movie now in the works, marred only by a few treacly passages about the wonder of it all. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
However, before too long I found myself bored by hollow, cardboard characters, coincidences that didn't seem likely, and a dispassionate text that failed to reel me in like previous Strieber books had.
Due to the lack of any really good characters, and a plot that seemed (to me) to be at odds with what Whitley really believes, this book was a dull one that I had to plod through mechnically just to finish. It did however have many of the cornerstones of the UFO genre, such as Nordic aliens and floating anti-gravity triangle craft. Still, I doubt I'll ever pick it up again. I'll stick with Communion.
2 stars. Has some outstanding material scattered in the text, but as a whole, not a very enjoyable read.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
With unique depictions of threats generated by an alien presence - threats fueled as much by human paranoia as by alien intention - this thriller's spy games are scary and satisfying on many levels. Said to be informed by the real life alien encounters of the author (written of in his 1987 NY Times best-selling book Communion), The Grays is also inspired by the author's passion for environmental responsibility. In an earlier novel he'd written about a terrible leader who tried to avert environmental apocalypse by euthenizing a third of the planet's population. A similar scenario is revisited in The Grays, as politicians conceive of ways to escape from a fate they fear - incorrectly - could end the human race entirely.
This is not a horror novel, though frights come steadily. The underlying horror in the novel is in how Strieber's characters find themselves trapped between the fear of the unknown and the fear of the known - and must make life or death choices in this "gray area". Recommended.
I've read several of Whitley Streiber's abduction books, and I believe, at the very least, that Mr. Streiber believes what he's saying about visitors from another planet (or dimension). With that said, I picked up The Greys expecting to find a fictionalized version of what the author believes is really going on concerning alien visitors.
What I got was a poorly thought out story,filled with difficult to believe actions, and characters who were highly one dimensional.
Spoiler alert: I am going to discuss some events from the story, so if you haven't read the story, and plan to, you might want to skip this part:
There are so many absurd events that take place in what otherwise might have been a fine story, I can't help but feel a vague sense of disappointment! Why did the villain, Mike, go to such amazingly elaborate lengths to have connor killed. Why not just sneak up and give him 2 in the back of the head. If the future of mankind depends on his death, shoot him and be done with it! On the other side of the conflict, if Connor was so important to the Grays, why did they let Mike roam around unchecked. Implant him, use mind control, have him commit suicide, and BE DONE WITH IT! Come on, this is a race that's millions of years old and super intelligent. They are also supposed to be devoid of emotions, so it can't be guilt that's stopping them!
Some of the other actions the grays take strike me as slightly retarded. Not what you'd expect from an alien race millions of years ahead of us. One example is the fire at the silo in Wilton. Why did one of the 3 thieves have to drop himself on the roof to try to destroy the antenna transmitting the signal to all the pre-programmed assassins If they are so advanced, why couldn't they destroy it with some weapon, or the device they use to levitate people, or some form of their higher technology? It just smacks of a poorly thought out plot contrivance. The problem with this is that the events that followed seemed forced and fairly unbelieveable because of it.
Things like that permeate this story. Like the member of the trust who hijacks the TR and uses it, and a program code, to redirect the scalar weapon to destroy the President and all the Senators in Washington. I was in the Navy for a time, and one thing I learned is that really dangerous weapons (like nuclear missiles) must be triggered by at least 2 people, to prevent just such a disaster from taking place. An invisible ship zapping the White House with an earthquake inducing ray is difficult enough to swallow, but expecting the readers to believe the fact that he did it without overcoming any restrictions other than inputting a code number is an insult to our intelligence.
This leads to the ultimate question of the whole story. If Connor and his "super intelligence" was so crucial to the survival of the Gray race, why was he the only one. If I were the Grays, I'd be pumping Connors out by the dozens. Even mega geniuses can die from an accident or illness. If it takes a triad of aliens to do something worthwhile, why didn't they think to make their uber-humans work in threes just like they do? It doesn't sound like a plan designed by a race of superior intelligence to me.
Needless to say, I was let down by this story. Parts of it were OK,which is why I gave it the 2nd star, but I really expected more from a writer of Mr. Streiber's caliber. It did nothing to advance the debate about aliens among us, and it disappointed me as a work of fiction.
Why do the characters react the way they do? Sometimes afraid, sometimes brilliant, sometimes mindless animals, I realized these are fully-fleshed, real characters that behave the way real people do. Mr. Strieber's insight into human behavior is masterful and lends a heavy realism to the book.
The scenes involving non-humans are both terrifying and mind-blowing. The pages flew by as I was riveted by these scenes, captivated by one surprise after another. I've never read anything like this before, particularly the pages that delve into mind of the non-humans.
The book reads like a spy thriller, though one with a beating, human heart at its core. The book is short, and the large cast of characters barely have enough time to process what's happening, swept away by events and revelations the same way the reader is torn from the mundane by this high-energy dynamo of a novel.
Believer in UFO lore or not, you'll love this book if you love fiction. It's worth the few sleepless nights you'll devote to it.
I have mixed feelings about The Grays. First a few cosmetic problems: I listened to the unabridged audio version and I found the narrator's voice somewhat creepy. His voice is sort of sexless and did not appeal to me. He does a good job narrating the individual characters but his straight narration does not appeal.
The story? At times I felt the author was trying to sell me on some alien propaganda dogma. He starts off by showing the atrocities the aliens commit on unwitting humans, and then goes to great lengths later on to tell me how the aliens are really good and going to save mankind. Which is it? Frankly after reading about another terrible act committed by the Grays I wanted to wipe the slimy rodents from the planet. Strieber's argument that the 'ends justifies the means' just doesn't sit well with me. It reminds me of the victims of abuse defending their captors. In my opinion, I think I'd rather be annihilated than to rely on Strieber's creepy pretentious cruel aliens for survival.
(Minor Spoilers, please do not read if you haven't read the book).
I don't care for novels where there are too many POV switches. The Grays started off fine, but then we are treated to about 8 different characters and their perspective, it began to get tiresome. I did not like the way the author revealed the grays secrets. It was way too much telling and way too little showing. I also thought the Grays were evil and not the 'benevolent dictators' the author represented. I was in fact inclined to side with the badguys that they needed to be eliminated. Freedom in slavery is not freedom. The villain character was over-the-top. I would much preferred a strong dedicated professional to a crazed psychotic assassin. Why must authors demonize the opposition to make one side look saintly and another side look degenerate? I think when the villain was implanting dogs with wires to kill their owners and other people I felt my eyeballs rolling. I hate seeing animals killed in books. Yuck.
Finally there is Connor, boy genius. He was extremely annoying. He seems to come from the Wesley Crusher school of characterization because the kid is flawless. I did not care what happened to him or his sappy parents. The whole Marcy thing was just too dumb. Could the author not figure a better way for Dan to get his tenure than to manipulate something so obviously emotionally wrenching such as that? Did they not think about the impact on Connor such an event might have?
Overall, I give the novel 4 stars. I would've liked it more if the aliens and their motives were not spelled out so carefully and if the book didn't read a bit like a Gray publicity brochure.
See, what I'll do is, I'll unplug the land line, grab a sweet Italian cream pie, a big bag of Dutch pretzels, a squeeze bottle of yellow mustard, and a few beers, loosen my belt, unzip my jeans, and sink back in the comfortable chair for hours at a time. It don't get any better.
The first time I was abducted, well, it was a trip of an experience, and I ain't selfish---it's something I wish on everybody. I woke up to find myself lit up like a semiconductor and floating through the freak'in wall. A lot of household objects were also drifting through the air--a pizza box, the car keys, a framed picture of my father, a pile of stroke books, my razor, a zucchini--it was amazing, I can tell ya.
Inside the ship, the grays were swarming like locusts on the Serengeti. There must have been 18 or more of 'em. They make a rasping asthmatic sound that's hard to tolerate, but otherwise, they treat you good. They got the quiet manners of an Italian pope. St. Philomena didn't carry herself with more poise or dignity.
I was pretty much paralyzed the first time they took me up, but I still used the experience to learn things. I discovered parts of my body I didn't even know I had and things that could be done to me. Yowza--I'm practically a liberal now! You think they wanna hurt you? Hey, don't worrya about it!
After a while they shifted me around, and instead of a white glowing room like something out of a 70s Penthouse spread, I found myself staring at a basement café with exposed brick walls and a lot of small tables with candles in colored jars on 'em. The grays were now wearing blue-and-white striped jerseys and black berets. They had little mustaches and goatees--you know, chin hair. One was playing the accordion in a dark corner and another was singing 'La Goualante du Pauvre Jean' under a dim light.
They do Polynesian and Egyptian themes too.
The next morning I woke up in bed, a bit sore in the keister but otherwise pretty much as usual. The pizza box, house keys, and whatnot were back on the kitchen table, but the two slices of pizza that had been in the box were gone. But hey--I'm gonna begrudge our space brothers two slices of a Veggie Wedgie pie? Forgetta about it!
Since then, I've kinda strong-armed 'em into working for me, and discovered what hard workers they are. No one trims a nicer hedge, weeds a bed of petunias, or builds a better veranda. They prepare a plate of gnocchi bolognese and a three-bean salad your grandmother would trade her goat for.
They're tireless, reliable, and follow instructions first time every time. They don't eat, drink, sleep, wear clothes, overreact to thunder, or use the john, and you don't have to pay 'em or register 'em with Uncle Sam.
You just gotta sorta keep 'em out of sight is all. Old lady Notrathomaso went ballistic when she found 'em in her chokeberry bushes. High fences still make good neighbors. Whatever Pilgrim Father came up with that bit of timeless wisdom was dead on.
At night I just herd 'em all in the shed and lock it up. They can stay like that for weeks in any weather and be none the worse for it. If I hadda guess I'd say they're made of some sorta soft plastic. They're pliable, like al dente pasta. They got moist, poreless skin like tree frogs and smell like fresh asparagus. I guess they could beam themselves up if they were unhappy. They ain't done so as of yet.
If you think you could deal with 8 docile but industrious monkeys around the house, call me up. I'm thinking of renting 'em out. Would they be taking jobs from good tax-paying Americans? Maybe. But you should see the trim job they did in the dining room. Im-mac-u-late. Not a spot of paint on the lacquer. What high school kid can do that? Hey, it's a capitalist's dream I got going on here.
I disagree, therefore, with Strieber about what the grays are all about. Far from dissecting me, I sorta wish one would drop dead so I could dissect it. I have a suspicion I'd find nothing but roots, tubers, and fungus inside, and moss for brains. Sometimes I put little hats on 'em and march 'em around the yard.
Still, 'The Grays' is good stuff if you can get past the character of the young genius, Conner. And I mean really young--like, 10. He's a bit of an obnoxious brat and know-it-all, but that's the literary world for ya. Huck Finn or Oliver Twist, he ain't. He's more like Tom Terrific with ADD.
If you bought this book, you've probably already heard about black helicopters, undetectable military bases, cavity probes, Roswell, and the whole sick conspiracy trip. Nothing new in that regard here. But Strieber tells a dramatic horror story for a few hours--you'll forget to eat your pretzels, is all I can say.
I got the idea to use one of my grays as a footstool last night, but that seemed like going too far. I gotta soft heart--me, inflicting pain or humiliation?--forgetta about it! I'm pulling your joint!
I recommend you get this novel and then ease into Strieber's others if you like it. It ain't a waste of money and it ain't fruitcake.