Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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The First Thursday Afternoon "Hangover" Review: Jed The Dead

Alan Dean Foster is a prime source of medium quality mind candy. He's not an author for the deep, philosophical SF I tend to prefer, but he's there for those moments when you fancy a good old dollop of SF Lite. As it's been a busy a few weeks recently, I've found myself pulling a couple of Foster's off the to-be-read bookcase, ready to read on the tube and the train.

Jed The Dead is typical recent Alan Dean Foster. A standalone novel, and not part of any of his long running series, it's a travelogue loosely disguised as an SF thriller. The story ranges across the South West United States and (in an obvious tax write off move for a holiday) the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula.

While it may be a travelogue, that's not to say this isn't a fun story - for one thing Larry Niven's made a pretty good career out of travelogue SF. A Texas oil rigger, bar tending his way to the Pacific Ocean picks up the dead body of an alien, only to find himself hunted by UFO cultists, the military, and more other-worldly concerns... His journey results in him seeing a very different view of America than he originally intended, and giving us an enjoyable little light thriller from someone who obviously loves the places he's writing about. We get to see strange events, strange beings, and hear strange stories. We also get to learn something of what it means to be part of a civilisation that reveres words above all else.

This isn't great SF by any stretch of the imagination. Jed The Dead's aliens are straight out of Lucasfilm's casting central, and the main characters have walked out of any number of US sitcoms. What it is, though, is a pleasant means of passing a few hours when crammed into public transport during the rush hour.

And to be completely honest that isn't a bad thing at all.
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