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on August 3, 2017
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on November 4, 2002
As a simple adventure story, featuring aliens mucking around Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881, it works. It's engaging, it's fast like a gecko going up a wall, and it gets raunchier than I thought it would for a book written by a guy married to Laura Ingalls.
The Kra'agh have noticed Earth; their ships are amassing around our planet even if we don't know it. These hideous, sadistic (they feed on pain, as well as flesh) critters from another world, with powers of mimicry and thought-absorption, have even got a few scouts down in cowboy country, interacting with Wyatt Earp, Ike Clanton, and all those boys who just can't get along. Okay, so we know there's a gunfight looming, and it seems likely that both the skulking Kra'agh, and the visitors in "white hats"--that would be some folks from the planet Shanidar, who oppose creatures like the Kra'agh, on behalf of a benevolent intergalactic league of do-gooders called The Associative--are going to get caught in the crossfire at the OK Corral. Nevertheless, if history does tell us where some of the plot is heading, it's still a hoot watching Ma'khleen and Doree, Associative agents (called Monitors, actually) conduct their own private secret war against two Kra'agh scouts named Deathstalker and Painspinner. Naturally, the fate of Earth hangs in the balance.
This is just a story; there is no hidden meaning to aliens showing up in disguise at the OK if you also wish to be present, go for fun. This is escapist SF, wild west style, with some laughs, some sex, and lots of macho posturing, leading to tough hombres firing lead every which way, as well as disgusting aliens, who can macho-posture with the best of em, firing energy bolts at all comers.
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on December 21, 1999
Tombstone 1881; not the slightly gritty, visually septic Hollywood version, but a real, multi-layered tapestry of frontier life, where the gap separating the lawless from the law keepers is thin and murky. This is the well-researched backdrop for a science fiction story that would give Sigourney Weaver nightmares.
From the outset, we are thrust into a cat and mouse game. The predators are creatures who do not feed simply on human flesh, but feast, indeed savor, human terror. The prey is a man without a memory. But there's far more at stake that just his life...if only he could recall why.
At times, the reader is caught up in the events leading to the most famous showdown in American western history, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Then changing gear, the unfolding drama is seen from the alien perspectives of hunter and hunted, both of whom are confused by human motivations and self-righteous, conflicting moralities.
Cocky and self-assured, caught up in their own unfolding drama, the human players have no comprehension that the very future of Earth is at stake as they head towards their own violent climax. A climax that without alien involvement, may have seen history written very differently....
The book is punctuated with a rich patina of sensations. Not simply visual, but visceral. The brutality of the aliens is described with imagery that reaches into our primitive hindbrain and shakes it uncomfortably. Yet we also see that some humans too, feed on terror and in many ways are as unprincipled as the most horrific of aliens our imaginations can conjure.
Read this one carefully to savor the tastes and textures of a well written, first book. I look forward to a sequel.
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on November 21, 1999
Macklin and Doris are descendants from the lost colony of Roanoke, whose citizens were taken into space by a benevolent race. Both serve as Monitors insuring the safety of earth from malevolent aliens. As a prelude to an invasion, the Kr'agh attack the ship of the Monitors, which ultimately crashes onto the planet. Macklin suffers amnesia and wonders into Tombstone, Arizona circa 1881.

The Kr'agh trail Macklin, munching on humans along the way and absorbing their intelligence like a sponge. The Kr,agh soon disguise themselves as human and join the Clanton gang. Macklin allies himself with the Earp brothers. Doris catches up and helps Macklin regain his memory, as the OK Corral is about to occur.

At first glance, the story line of FRONTEIR EARTH seems like a zillion other novels with similar themes that for the most part failed. However, Babylon 5 star Bruce Boxleitner provides freshness to the OK Corral that will please science fiction and western fans. The plot is filled with non-stop action and actually appears plausible. The Monitors are an interesting duo and the Kr'agh make for some vile villains. Mr. Boxleitner shows a deft touch that will lead to readers wanting more novels in this universe.

Harriet Klausner
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on September 17, 2002
I picked this one up because it's no secret that Bruce Boxleitner is a fan and reader of science fiction and a history buff. I thought it would be interesting to see how he managed to combine the two in this tale purporting to be first contact with aliens in 1881 in the Old West
The protagonist is Monitor Macklin, a human being from stock that came originally from Earth, and sent to Earth to keep us safe from the predator aliens. There's a couple problems, though: the predator Kra'augh are already here, getting ready to move in, strip-mine the planet and enjoy hunting the Food -- us. And Macklin's ship crash-landed and he's lost a chunk of his memory. His AI implant is working hard to feed him data, but his head injury is making it hard to get through. To make it more interesting, Macklin arrives in Tombstone shortly before the OK Corral shootout (and if you don't know what this is, go watch Tombstone).
The story focuses on Macklin trying to figure out why he's here and who he is and why he knows what horses and saddles are, but has obviously never ridden. Meanwwhile, Monitor Doreen, Macklin's partner and lover, who did land safely (they were both dodging the predator ships when they landed), is busy looking for him. Concurrent with that, two predator scouts are on the move, killing some Food (and pleased with the sport can give) and trying to find the Monitors so they can't send for help.
It's competently written, if a little clumsy sometimes. Nothing fancy in the structure, just the linear storyline ad a few memory flashes of the past from Macklin. I'd guess that Boxleitner is a man with a story to tell, and has chosen to tell it more like a western than sf. I think the humorous side of the Monitors and aliens (who can take on the appearance of Food they have absorbed, but still smell and act strange) trying to fit into the "wild west," is not a well-developed as it could be. It's the beginning of a series. Not all the questions get answered, not all the problems solved. I am, however, interested enough to read the next one.
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on January 19, 2000
I thought I would pass on this infomation - my copy of Frontier Earth by Bruce arrived this morning around 9am - it is now 10.45 pm and I am about three quarters of the way through.
It is really quite good - The descriptive writing is what a lot of book reviewers would call "First time writer" in other words detailed - but by no mean feat as detailed as the likes of Tolkien. Bruce has certainly done his research for the book - the passages describing the layout of Tombstone at the time are accurate - I know cause I looked it up ;) His characters are well developed and the "evil" is just that. but more predatory-evil than evil-evil. It certainly lends to a follow up book and I am sincerely hoping there will be one. Oh *PLULEEZE* let there be another one!
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on November 22, 1999
Having just picked this book up, I was struck by the level of research that the author obviously performed to get the flavor and historical authenticity of the Tombstone area. The intensity of the Earp-Clanton feud his heightened by the behind the scenes death struggle between the Monitor and the Kra'agh.
This type of believeable alien is similar to those done by William H. Keith in his novels, and therefore it is no suprise to see Bill Keith acknowledged in the book.
I was forced to stay up far too late to finish this book. I hope there are more forthcoming, and more information on the Associatives, and the eerily dangerous Kra'agh.
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on November 22, 1999
The man really did it! This first novel gives us a taste of Harry Turtledove, with a dash of Stephen King, and a healthy dose of Mr. Boxleitner's wit, charm and experienced actor's sense of story. It is definitely a first novel AND a setup for a sequel so the exposition is sometimes too lengthy, in moments even diluting the suspense, BUT when it revs up, it really revs up and is well worth the read--looking forward to more from such a creative storyteller!
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on July 20, 2001
A really good concept for a Sci Fi book. I always enjoy when the sci fi plot is wrapped in with a real historic event. I only had 2 complaints about this book, 1. was Mr. Boxleitner's take on Tombstone and the gunfight and 2. the seemingly unavoidable political correctness which has to be in every book these days to reach the "mass". If you erase all 21st century references, this a a 4 star book. With them it gets 3.
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on July 4, 2000
Frontier Earth appeared some time ago but deserves ongoing mention as an excellent blend of a Western and a science fiction story. Two aliens crash land on earth in a plot reminiscent of Hal Clement's Needle, but with a Western twist; for their involvement in the gunfighting world of the late 1800s may change human lives. The fact that humans are oblivious to the aliens adds tension.
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