The book is more than just off-list: I grabbed it out of desperation at Bookman during a particularly trying weekend in Anaheim. My reading list had been defying me. Dragonflight was a dud, The Weans was a book, yes, but it was only a very short story, Witch World is fantasy not science fiction, and I am Legend is horror not science fiction. I had just about come to the frustrated decision that in addition to not reading off-list books, and not reading bad or inappropriate on-list books, that I may need to skip over entire letters in the alphabet if need be.
Something in this slim little book spoke out to me. It was odd: there was no publishing information in it, no date, though given the foxed pages I guessed it was from the sixties or seventies. 1971, it turned out. Paging through it, it seemed good. And it was.
It treads ground that I have not seen covered in other books – aliens take over the earth and the human race disappears as alien-human hybrids take over with violence as the only remaining legacy of humanity; a bat-winged angel unable to fly, created by aliens, flinging himself off a cliff after learning a beautiful poem; men who takes their fighting cues from cockfights; a flawed “protagonist” who chooses the wrong side and destroys everyone he loves – and things I have seen that give resonance – for instance, religious zealots with militant agendas. Smart, creepy, dangerous, grim, bleak, chill, poetic. Never mind the few negative internet geek reviews of this mysterious, unknown story: this is a wonderful book. It is written so beautifully, I suspected it might be the pseudonymed work of a really fine author, like John Crowley.
Looking up Dennis O’Neil, I was surprised. He wrote and edited comic books (Bat Man and Transformers), and he is now a radio personality in Canada under the name Bob McGee.
A beautifully turned sentence and a terrible image create a deep impression of thought and emotion in the reader.