Reviews of The Grays
Fact into fiction? In bestseller Strieber's engrossing SF thriller, which draws heavily from Communion (1987), the author's controversial account of his personal contact with aliens, Danny and Katelyn Callaghan are a happily married couple oblivious that both took a saucer ride as kidsuntil a UFO sighting in their Indiana town awakens subliminal memories and excites their genius teenage son, Conner. Meanwhile, in a secret facility in Colorado, Air Force Lt. Lauren Glass learns that the Roswell incident really happened, and that for decades the surviving ETs have been sharing their advanced science with us. In exchange, these "Grays" have sought to rejuvenate their dying species by genetically manipulating human receptacles for their DNA. But some military hard-liners see this as a betrayal of humanity, and they launch a manhunt that brings them to Indiana and the Callaghans' doorstep. Though Strieber's human characters are sometimes as stiff and unbelievable as his Grays, his depiction of black ops intrigue and military espionage is a first-rate exercise in literary paranoia. It goes without saying that his abduction scenarios have a disturbing authenticity that even skeptical readers will find provocative. (Aug.)
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In 1985, Strieber, then a top horror writer, author of The Wolfen (1978) and The Hunger (1981), had an alien-abduction experience. The book he wrote about it, Communion (1987), was so successful that his output of fiction dwindled in the 1990s as he expanded upon his biggest best-seller. Stillborn sequels to The Hunger emerged in 2001 and 2002, but The Grays is a quantum leap back to his fictional form, powered by his newer, nonfiction obsessions. In it aliens--the grays--have been with humanity for a good, long time, for excellent reasons. They've been helping humanity avoid their mistakes, which destroyed their emotions. Now, after a several-million-years journey, the rest of the grays, for whom those among us were pioneers with a purpose, are nearing Earth. Measures crucial to their success have been set in motion, most important among them, the creation of a human child of supernormal intelligence to receive the grays' advanced knowledge. Trouble is, hints of the child's existence had to be made to humans with authority; hence, the Roswell business. And hence, the development of rival factions within the top-secret military operation that guards the Roswell aliens. Strieber manages the plot built on those premises as a breakneck race to find the child and, depending on which faction the characters belong to, protect or destroy it. It's a terrific read, already blocked out like a screenplay for the major movie now in the works, marred only by a few treacly passages about the wonder of it all.
Ray Olson, Booklist
© 2006 American Library Association. All rights reserved
Picks & Pans section of People Magazine's August 14th issue, page 51, calls The Grays as a great read, writing One government faction believes aliens are trying to save us; another thinks they want to conquer in this truly spooky sci-fi tale from the author of Communion.
San Antonio Express-News
Book Review: Earth's destiny hangs in the balance in sci-fi thriller
Ed Conroy, Special to the Express-News
Is mankind on the verge of a fatal, global environmental collapse that can
only be halted by allying ourselves with alien beings who for centuries have
preyed upon us like wolves, while we have slept like sheep?
Are we to now find collective survival through trusting the manipulative "grays," who have been reputedly abducting people at will, invading our minds and stealing our DNA, not to mention bullying the highest authorities in the U.S. into letting them have their way in total secrecy?
Most of all, is the fate of the earth really in the hands of a brilliant 11-year-old boy genetically engineered to receive all the grays' knowledge?
Or, as members of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal might assert, is such a scenario simply the basis of a potentially lucrative screenplay-turned-novel by a man who feels called to speak with a prophetic voice?
One thing is certain about the latest story from the world's most outspoken advocate for the reality of the UFO phenomenon.
Whitley Strieber says he is telling the truth, in fiction.
Strieber happens to be the author of one of the most successful UFO-related books of all time. His 1987 nonfiction narrative, Communion: A True Story recounted what he described as his abduction by intelligent nonhuman beings in 1985 at his cabin in upstate New York.
Since then, Strieber has written several nonfiction books about his "visitor experiences" until 1990, and new novels in the horror genre he gainfully employed before writing Communion.
In his Web site's July 27 journal entry, Strieber explained he struggled for years to write about his more recent experiences with his unannounced visitors.
"I tried various approaches, and finally decided that the best one was to repeat what I had done with 'Majestic,' and write fact-based fiction," he wrote. "But in this case, of course, the facts are even more fantastic than they were with the Roswell Incident."
Strieber refers to his 1989 novel based upon the much disputed UFO-related events that reportedly took place in and around Roswell, N.M., in 1947.
So what is now "even more fantastic" than stories of crashed discs and recovered aliens and yet "fact based?"
In The Grays, Strieber makes a rescued alien being, named Adam, a key player in a conflict centering upon the fate of the world.
Strieber presents the world's fate as identical with the destiny of young genius Connor Callaghan, mankind's link to the collective gray mind.
It just so happens "Adam" escapes from his underground bunker, leaving U.S. Air Force Col. Lauren Glass, the "empath" who is the sole person capable of communicating with him, in mortal danger from her own boss, Col. Mike Wilkes.
Strieber makes the corrupt Wilkes part of a super-secret group known as The Trust that has been profitably selling information from the "grays" to high-tech industries.
The Trust has also funded worldwide underground complexes where a million elite people will survive what Strieber describes as a global catastrophe of cosmic origins, similar to what destroyed the dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, at a tiny college town in the Midwest, former alien abductees Katelyn and Dan Callaghan are struggling with career and relationship issues plus their son Connor's precocity when a triad of "grays" three beings with one mind show up on their doorstep.
They are interested in "activating" Connor.
Strieber depicts Connor as in mortal danger from Wilkes, who is convinced that, to save humanity, he must keep the human-alien bridge from being built.
Strieber fans this conflict to an incendiary, cinematic climax in which a lot of innocent people are killed or extremely traumatized and not mourned in the least.
It is suspense, intrigue and violence (including the destruction of the Washington Monument and the West Wing of the White House, plus their occupants, ala a 1950s sci-fi flick) that turn the pages in this book.
The characters are secondary to the global-disaster-based plot that consumes them and their motivations.
Despite his charming predictive abilities, model train set and growing social skills, Connor Callaghan remains in the end a mystery.
No matter Strieber would have us know a great destiny still lies in wait for him. After all, he has the right genes.
Anyone looking for an understanding of just why the "grays" know how to save our planet, and how an 11-year-old boy will help them do so (why not an 11-year-old girl?) will have to wait for "The Grays II."
Ed Conroy is a San Antonio writer and the development director at the Southwest School of Art & Craft.
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