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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
First, I am a big fan of Mr. Sawyer. His imagination is unfathomable. Though filed in Science Fiction this is a story of Justice and Law. A legal system while flawed when left to the conscience of a 12 person jury can arrive at a just and honourable decision.
Published on July 23 2010 by Paul Rider

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Aliens and Murder Trials...
This is likely the Sawyer book that I enjoyed the least. Now, by that, I don't mean I didn't like it. In fact, it had some of the best written aliens to come from his pen, and had great human characters that I found well characterized and plausible.
The concept is fairly simple: Aliens land on earth, they tour around, become celebrities, and then someone who had...
Published on July 13 2001 by Jonathan Burgoine


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Aliens and Murder Trials..., July 13 2001
By 
Jonathan Burgoine "bookseller" (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is likely the Sawyer book that I enjoyed the least. Now, by that, I don't mean I didn't like it. In fact, it had some of the best written aliens to come from his pen, and had great human characters that I found well characterized and plausible.
The concept is fairly simple: Aliens land on earth, they tour around, become celebrities, and then someone who had close contact with the aliens is found murdered, and prime suspect number one is one of the aliens. Hence, a trial.
The notion of putting aliens on trial was very good, and the idea was kept rather sound. The science of the alien physiology was very well crafted into the story (especially the concept of using alien DNA typing in the trial).
Then, enter OJ Simpson. No, not as a character, obviously, but as reference after reference. This book got bogged down in the OJ references, which, given when the book was written, would have been fine, but reading it now made it clunky and a little bit out-of-date. Making a contemporary reference or two is usually fair play, but the reliance on OJ metaphors was just overdone, and this book will likely suffer more from it as time goes by.
Still, in and of itself, there is a good plot here - not just for those of you interested in the legalities, but of alien cultures and physiologies - not to mention a good ol' fashioned murder mystery! The twist at the end is another Sawyer great, and as long as you can get past the OJ stuff, it's worth your while.
'Nathan
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, July 23 2010
By 
Paul Rider "Pete" (Toronto) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Illegal Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
First, I am a big fan of Mr. Sawyer. His imagination is unfathomable. Though filed in Science Fiction this is a story of Justice and Law. A legal system while flawed when left to the conscience of a 12 person jury can arrive at a just and honourable decision.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perry Mason meets Star Trek, April 21 2010
This review is from: Illegal Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
Perry Mason meets Star Trek in this first contact murder mystery.

When a damaged spaceship is discovered in Earth's atmosphere, we are introduced to an alien race apparently here in peace. With the help of American scientists, the Tosok work toward repairing their ship with the goal to return home. Everything goes amazingly well until the gruesome murder of a well known scientist. The likely suspect is one of the visitors and it is up to lawyer Dale Rice and science advisor Frank Nobilio to prove their innocence and defend their rights. Once uncovered, the truth changes everything.

Although this book reads very much like Sawyer's Terminal Experiment (a quick and easy read), it is safe to say that Illegal Alien definitely has more sci-fi to it and the sci-fi is well done. It is an interesting mix of mystery and science-fiction and the story is intriguing and not too terribly predictable.

The one thing that kept on bugging me was the names of some of the characters, alien names aside. Cletus Calhoun? Packwood Smathers? Come on.

I would highly recommend Illegal Alien to fans of mystery and/or science fiction. This book is a great summer read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific courtroom drama, terrific science fiction, April 5 2010
By 
This review is from: Illegal Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
ILLEGAL ALIEN is one of Robert J. Sawyer's very best novels -- as you'd know if Amazon had carried over the reviews from the previous edition. Yes, this is a reprint of an older book, but it totally deserves to be back in print, and now it is in a very handsome edition from Penguin Canada. Margaret Cannon, the long-time crime-fiction reviewer for THE GLOBE AND MAIL called this "the best Canadian mystery novel of the year" and it also won Japan's top science-fiction award, the Seiun, for best foreign novel of the year.

The book tells the story of the aftermath of the brutal murder of a popular PBS astronomy-show host, who had been touring the world in the company of a small group of aliens from Alpha Centauri. The "trial of the Centauri" that ensues is gripping to read about -- the courtroom scenes are the best-ever in SF, bar none, and, as Margaret Cannon said, put John Grisham to shame. And the aliens are worthy of the best of Larry Niven or Hal Clement or Robert L. Forward. The characters -- including wily civil-rights attorney Dale Rice and the US Presidential Science Advisor, Dr. Frank Nobilio, fight in front of the judge and behind the scenes to make sure that justice is done -- and Earth is kept safe.

This book can be enjoyed equally by mystery-fiction fans, by science-fiction fans, and by those who simply enjoy a gripping story with some fascinating philosophical questions behind it. Sawyer, who wrote the novel FLASHFORWARD, upon which the TV series is based, just scored his 13th Hugo Award nomination (and he previously won for HOMINIDS), and he's also a past winner of the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada, so he's uniquely qualified to blend the mystery and SF genres, and he does it exceedingly well here. The verdict is in: ILLEGAL ALIEN is a fabulous read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at best, Oct. 29 2003
By A Customer
This book is social commentary thinly disguised as science-fiction/mystery. There's nothing wrong with that per se; combining sci-fi with social-political views goes back at least to H.G. Wells, to a lesser extent to Jules Verne, and for all I know even before that. There's a catch, though: the sci-fi story must be good enough to stand on its own, without the political trappings. Such was the case with "War of the Worlds", "The Time Machine", etc. Such is not the case with "Illegal Alien". The reader is subjected to a steady stream of the author's liberal political and social views, along with a wearying succession of pop culture references. In short, if you're a left-wing kind of person -- to the extent that you'll put up with a mediocre sci-fi yarn just to get your dose of liberal politics -- then this may be the book for you. All others, steer clear. And maybe re-acquaint yourself with a real writer like Wells.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quest for truth and justice, July 31 2002
By 
The characters were developed quite well. So well that I was saddened when one of the main ones died, so early in the story aswell. But, if it wasn't for his death, there would be no story. I saw light in the concept of treating alien lifeforms like humans by giving them a fair trial. But, why would any human give an alien a fair trial over a human death- especially if aliens landed on earth and the next day someone was mutilated and it was obvious that the technology used in the murder wasn't human. Perhaps instead of simply taking direct action, the alien was put on trial to avoid war and complete chaos? I always appreciate the theological debates. Of course, the underlying motive of the aliens was the search for meaning. Although, the actions of these beings seemed to demonstrate otherwise.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Just discovered one of the best, July 26 2002
With this book, bought while waiting in an airport, expecting nothing, I discovered a man that at once became one of my favorite authors. Sawyer is so creative, se sensible, so well informed and so human, he brings SF at a level that I must admit, as a trekkie, even Star Trek never reached. The evasion is absolute, the likeliness is as real as can be. Logic and emotions meet peacefully.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two genres collide wonderfully, Nov. 13 2001
By 
Jeffrey J. Lyons (Pembroke, NH United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
If you're reading this review, you probably like science-fiction. But do you like mystery and court room drama too? Then you will very much enjoy "Illegal Alien." Sawyer takes a science-fiction concept and mingles it with a courtroom case. This Canadian author has done his research on the US Justice system. I felt that I was reading the transcripts from any one of the thousands of US court cases that occurs every day. The book holds your interest and twists just enough at the end to satisfy your desire for a good whodunnit. Highly recomemnded for both sci-fi and mystery fans.
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3.0 out of 5 stars David Coliadis' report, March 22 2001
By 
This book was ok but I don't think it had enough action in it but the courtroom sequences were very detailed about the evidence they found and that was the only part I liked about the judicial part of the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Darwin's Dangerous Idea strikes again!, Jan. 21 2001
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Illegal Alien (Hardcover)
Daniel Dennett called evolution Darwin's Dangerous Idea. He describes it as a 'universal acid', eroding the fabric of traditional habits. Dennett recognizes how violent those threatened by new ideas can become. Robert Sawyer has taken that thesis to a new, wonderfully conceived, level in this book. Those reviewers grizzling about this story recapitulating the O.J. Simpson trial must have skipped over the hard parts. Illegal Alien is a much deeper presentation of the workings of reactionary minds. We've all seen how vicious fanatic religious "leaders" can be when orthodoxy is challenged. Sawyer has extended that concept to a cosmic scale. And he's done a superb job of it.
While the bulk of this book is an excellent summary of a modern criminal trial, Sawyer's real success is the building of the alien personalities. Unable to lie, they are adept at evasion and equivocation when they deem it necessary. The aliens are not the uniform society usually found in speculative fiction. Instead, they turn out to be as divided as ourselves. That the division is based on the discovery of evolution of their species is classic Sawyer. He's to be congratulated on his deft handling of an alien civilization undergoing the same stress as our own in dealing with Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
Sawyer isn't just the best Canadian speculative fiction writer. He is at the top of the genre. Unlike so many of his fellows, the 'speculative' side of his writing is minimal. We may have to stretch our minds in reading him, but not because his ideas are too bizarre or his science base faulty. Sawyer's science in this book is rock solid. The exchange over evolution's producing the eye was a prime example of his research abilities. Richard Dawkins [Climbing Mount Improbable] must be proud of his 'colonial' advocate. Sawyer merges science and fiction with sublime finesse.
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Illegal Alien
Illegal Alien by Robert J. Sawyer (Mass Market Paperback - Dec 1 2009)
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