The Alien Years by Robert Silverberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this author and hence this book. This author is well known and I’ve been meaning to read him for quite awhile and he came strongly recommended to me by a new friend. I saw this book in a bookstore this past weekend and picked it up. I started reading it a day or so ago, but didn’t get very far before I gave up in frustration. But I didn’t give up for the usual reasons. It’s not that the writing was that bad or it was that boring. It’s about huge, squid-like aliens who invade Earth, including ones that invade L.A., setting off a series of monster forest fires that are so bad, they could incinerate the entire SoCal area and pretty much leave nothing left. It sounds a little overly dramatic, but I can live with that.
No, the thing that stopped me 40 pages in is that I got seriously pissed off at Silverberg. See, he went to great lengths to trash L.A. repeatedly at every opportunity imaginable. It’s ugly, grim, disgusting, dirty, sinful, trashy, full of stupid and bizarre people, etc, etc., and he goes on and on about it and he won’t shut the fuck up about it! I don’t know if I’ve seen that much hatred for L.A. in a long time. It pisses me off because while I’ve moved 28 times and have lived in the US and Canada and seven states and while I have lived in four cities for 10+ years each, Los Angeles is one of those cities and it’s my favorite city I have ever lived in and I consider it my home, or at least my spiritual home though I no longer live there. I know it’s not the greatest city in the world and like every city, it has its problems, but it also has some awesome things that virtually no other city has to offer. Where else can you go water skiing and snow skiing on the same day? Talk about a great, year round temperate climate! I could go on and on for paragraphs, but I’m not L.A.’s tourist board, so I won’t. But I’m going to show my own snobbery. The only people I’ve ever seen this kind of disdain for L.A. have been New Yorkers and people from San Francisco and sure enough, when I looked up Silverberg’s bio, he was born and brought up in New York City, so he’s part of NYC’s elite, believing obviously that NYC is the greatest city to ever grace the earth, as so many of them do, and that L.A. is full of superficial airheads who know nothing and are worthless. And, surprise! He then moved to San Francisco, which is full of people who look down on L.A. because they are culturally and artistically superior to L.A. and SoCal’s “Little Mexico.” I can’t tell you how many times while living there I saw articles and editorials arguing that NoCal should vote to secede from SoCal and form its own state and leave SoCal to the invading Mexicans. Racist snobs. So, it comes as no surprise to me that Silverberg thinks poorly of L.A., although I still don’t know where his outright hatred of it comes from. But it’s disgusting and I couldn’t take it anymore, so I decided to stop reading before my blood pressure went through the roof. Who knows? Maybe it’s a good book. I doubt it, because its rating on Goodreads is only a 3.45, so obviously most people consider it mediocre, even though its cover trumpets the notion that it’s his “epic masterpiece.” I’ll still read these two books recommended to me by my new friend, but I have to say, this was a disappointment and I’m not impressed and if this is typical of his work, I won’t have much good to say about him. Two stars, because outside of the L.A. bashing, it had potential. But definitely not recommended.