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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.
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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.