The Alien Years Hardcover – Jul 23 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Silverberg (Sorcerors of Majipoor) returns to his 1986 short story "The Pardoner's Tale" as the inspiration for this sobering and frightening novel of extraterrestrial invasion. The narrative opens seven years hence, with the arrival of alien spaceships on Earth, an event that has a devastating effect on the Carmichael family. Pilot Michael Carmichael is killed trying to fight the huge firestorms in Los Angeles that erupt when the alien ships land; his wife, Cindy, leaps at the chance to go aboard one of the UFOs and become an interpreter for the "Entities"; and his brother, Colonel Anson Carmichael, is summoned by Washington to help cope with the situation. Before there is time to react, however, the aliens' intent becomes known as they disrupt all electricity and plunge civilization back into the Dark Ages. Silverberg's story is clear-eyed, credible and occasionally bleak. Faced with an omnipotent enemy, mankind's only alternative is to refuse to capitulate and to attempt to endure. Isolated and relatively safe in their mountain ranch, the extended Carmichael clan tries to go on with their lives while working on ways to resist their oppressors. Silverberg's technique of leapfrogging several years ahead between chapters furthers momentum, and while the enemy in his story is disturbingly inhuman, the focus of the tale is the humanity of his characters and their efforts to keep hope alive. The novel's ending seems arbitrary, but Silverberg's rich characters, his dead-on target vision of modern society, his mastery at building tension?all are in evidence in this notable outing from one of the very best. Agent: Ralph Vicinanza. (Aug.) FYI: Silverberg has won five Nebulas and four Hugos in his 44 years as an SF writer.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In the first decade of the new millennium, a sudden invasion by an alien species known only as the Entities brings about the swift and total conquest of Earth except for a small pocket of resisters led by Col. Anson Carmichael and his remarkable family. The latest novel by sf grand master Silverberg chronicles a half-century of struggle and frustration as generations of Carmichael sons and daughters strive to keep alive the concept of freedom in the face of overwhelmingly superior conquerors. Silverberg remains a superb raconteur whose patriarchal tendencies serve as a minor flaw in a remarkable study of human endurance and patience that belongs in most sf collections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The Alien Years" has been long in gestation - regular Silverberg
readers will recognize parts of at least 5 previously-published
stories , dating back to 1987. It's his best SF novel in many
years; maybe his best yet? Silverberg dedicates the book
to HG Wells - this is the centennial year of "War of the
Worlds" - and, in this 10th year after Heinlein's death, it can
hardly be coincidence that the patriarchal protagonist is named
The Aliens land "seven years from now", touching off massive
brush fires in the LA basin and, shortly thereafter, seismic changes
in humanity's place on our home planet. The alien Entities pay
little attention to humans, but any attack on them triggers
massive retaliation. Human institutions simply fall apart after the
Conquest. This is a long way from ID4 or the optimistic
Campbellian invasions of yore . Silverberg is working in terrain
similar to Wm. Barton's "When Heaven Fell", but with a more
elegaic tone, something like "Earth Abides" -- or "Nightwings".
"The Alien Years" is told thru the viewpoints of the Carmichaels,
an old California clan headed by a patriarchal Vietnam-era
Colonel. Thru 50 years of Entity rule, the Carmichaels never quite
give up hope or the memory of freedom. They are active in a
nominal Resistance, but real resistance is almost unthinkable - the
last, futile military attack on the Entities resulted in the death of
half of humanity.Read more ›
Then there is the group of resisters. It's a small world after all with this motley crew of multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-racial, multi-aged fighters - our own little UN of Earth folk. And despite the obvious, uh, disparity in skill level, technology and oh, about a million years of civilization, our group ekes out a tie. The ending ranks among one of the worst in modern fiction. After this LONG, not so great buildup, the aliens suddenly decide one day to pack up and leave. Seems they are lonely for the home world and decide that - hey, we spent a few trillion getting here and setting up so why not leave it all without rhyme or reason? We are back where we started, wondering and wandering about our navels and the strange way the universe acts. But we're gonna build a better world, yes-sirree! Hold your hats, partner, let me get my saw!
Now this may sound like a pretty simple and rather boring idea for a book but that is exactly what happens. The main characters are dominated by the Carmichael family. In fact there are so many Carmichaes in the book I had trouble telling them apart after a while, that plus the fact that half of them are named Anson didn't help. Some characters are well developed like Khalid and Borgman but the main family of resistance fighters (I use this term very loosly because in 400 odd pages they do very little resisting) are very forgettable.
The alien motives are never even hinted at let alone explored and I felt very cheated when I finally slugged my way to the final pages. It was like the author coudn't think of a genuine reason why they were there at all. I kept reading just waiting for something to happen. Sadly it never came.
2 out of 5
And so, the end of the book came and...well, there were no answers to any of these questions. At the risk of ruining the book for those who haven't read it, the answer is that...the aliens simply left Earth without any reason as to why. We asre never given any answers to these questions and it made me feel as if most of the book was filler. Perhaps I needed to read it more as how accurate the book was in telling how earth would react to this situation, but I really felt that Silverberg put a great deal of "fake creativity" into this novel. What i mean by this is that he came up with intriguing things that he alens did and the reader is left being fascinated with why the alens would do these odd things....so the answer is simply that we do not know. To me, an author who does this indicates that he has the creativity to come up with interesting ideas, but lacking the creativity to at least fill inthe holes to give some kind of satisfaction to the reader.
I was not looking for some big war at the end, or a smah 'em up book, but at least some kind of resolution. Instead, the aliens just left. That's it. FOr that, I was profoundly disappointed.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a rarity among science fiction books, an alien invasion book that is boring and lifeless. The book is more a generational saga than science fiction, and it either should... Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2009 by Amenhotep
Man, what do these guys want a freakin space opera. Silverberg is amazing in this book because his story is honest. He doesn't just try to wow you with all the old cliche trick. Read morePublished on Jan. 23 2004 by justin
Many of the reviewers have said it better than I can.
Good premise with no payoff. I slogged through pages of character development to get to a anti-climatic ending. Read more
There is more missing from this book than what is included. The plot's basic premise is these Aliens are so powerful that for the most part they ignore humanity, yet the book has... Read morePublished on July 24 2002
Silverberg is indeed excellent at what he does - he's displayed over the years a total mastery of language and skill at drawing the reader into the story (and keeping him there). Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2002
John W. Campbell would have hated this novel. Campbell, the editor of Astounding SF magazine who published many of Silverberg's early work, and launched the careers of Isaac... Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2002 by Kindle Customer
John W. Campbell would have hated this novel. Campbell, the editor of Astounding SF magazine who published many of Silverberg's early work, and launched the careers of Isaac Asimov... Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2002 by Kindle Customer
Robert Silverberg does a first rate job showing all human strengths and weaknesses during a 50-year alien occupation of Earth. Read morePublished on Aug. 14 2001 by John J. Rust