Bookshots: 'After the Saucers Landed' by Douglas Lain
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
After the Saucers Landed
Who wrote it?
Plot in a Box:
When the saucers landed and the aliens turned out to not only be friendly, but downright banal, a bunch of ufologists suddenly find their life’s work meaningless.
Invent a new title for this book:
The Myriad Uninteresting Opinions of Douglas Lain on Art, Philosophy, and Pop Culture
Read this if you liked:
Your college textbooks on art history and philosophy.
Meet the books lead(s):
Harold Flint, a ufologist and avant-garde artist who can’t handle the fact that his little fringe movement has become mainstream and his work is now irrelevant.
Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:
I’m gonna say Sam Elliot, but there’s no way this is getting made into a movie.
Setting: Would you want to live there?
The aliens are slowly taking over the Earth with their super-advanced religion that makes everyone walk around talking like Scientologists, so I’m gonna pass.
What was your favorite sentence?
But before we get to that you have to hear about how Asket became sexually excited by a triangle.
I can say without exaggeration that After the Saucers Landed is the most tediously dull novel I have read all year. It reads more like an overdue term-paper than a novel, like its author didn’t want to write it but had to turn something in. The premise of a soft invasion, where the aliens conquer us not with their superior weapons but their superior ideas, is introduced and discarded without much remark. It’s all just set-dressing for a bunch of indistinguishable characters endlessly navel-gazing and revealing “truths” to each other made up of new age spirituality buzzwords. They all sound the same, because these characters are not people, merely mouthpieces for the author’s musings on different schools of philosophy and critiques of various pieces of art. Chronology of events (of which there are few) gets blurry because alien contact often results in “lost time” and fuzzy memories, but thankfully the characters can always remember which abstract notion they were going to deconstruct next. At one point the narrator goes to warn the government about the aliens’ insidious plan, and the FBI agent on duty starts lecturing him about Descartes. This was the point at which I literally put down the book and groaned “Are you fucking kidding me?” But I forged onward, and Saucers did not fail to disappoint. In the penultimate chapter the book pulls a desperate metafictional turn and the narrator punches through the fourth wall in a sloppy attempt to excuse all the time you’ve just wasted listening to a guy in front of a blank canvas insisting its art and you just don’t get it, man. Whatever, guy. Make an effort next time.
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