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3.7 out of 5 stars26
3.7 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2010
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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on July 30, 2002
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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on February 20, 1999
Sawyer always entertains with good ideas and solid science--both are certainly present in this quick-paced enjoyable novel--but what I most enjoyed was the cleverness of the court scenes and the manner in which they were used to reveal the alien's oddities as well as the larger aspects of the case. I loved defender Dale Rice and his cross-examinations are some of the most enjoyable scenes I've lately come across. Not to mention the smooth manner in which Sawyer uses his tactics to give insights into our legal system. I admit I would have liked a bit more of the hard science I expect from Sawyer, but the secrets of the Tosok star system did deliver hours of daydreams about planets being...well, read, enjoy and dream for yourself.
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on January 10, 1998
Robert J. Sawyer has created some fascinating science fiction over the years and ILLEGAL ALIEN is some of his best writing to date. The science fiction aspects are overshadowed by courtroom procedures and random (but fun) pokes at the US judicial system -- and yet they are at the very core of the mystery being played out. One of the best aspects of Sawyer's books to date is using the "alien" to expose the human condition -- and show us how our society is as bizarre as any alien society could be. That is shown here in profound and sometimes humorous ways that can be read between the lines of the story. An enjoyable read, sometimes contradictory, yet still worthy of note. Recommended.
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on July 25, 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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on December 28, 1998
The aliens were well thought out and the trial was very interesting. In some ways it may even remind you of the infamous OJ trial. The main problems with the book were some lack of character development where it was hard to understand motivations and reasons for certain actions but it was an interesting first contact story.
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on August 24, 1999
Grisham meets Asimov in this Sci-Fi courtroom drama. A great success for Sawyer.
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