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The Foreigners
James Lovegrove
Victor Gollancz, 421 pages

Chris Moore
The Foreigners
James Lovegrove
James Lovegrove, who also writes as J.M.H. Lovegrove, is an Arthur C. Clarke Award short-listed author. He was born on Christmas Eve, 1965. Despite the rumour and the year and a half he spent in Chicago between 1995 and 1996, he remains inarguably, ineluctably, irretrievably, irrevocably British.

James Lovegrove Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Foreigners
SF Site Review: The Krilov Continuum
SF Site Review: The Hand That Feeds
James Lovegrove Profile

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

Jack Parry got his start in the London Metropolitan Police, battling urban violence in a world rapidly descending into brutal anarchy. But 17 years ago all that changed overnight when the aliens arrived on Earth.

Since the Foreigners appeared, striding in golden, enigmatic majesty through the streets of every city, Earth has been at peace. Alien "crystech" has replaced polluting human technology, and large resorts have been built to lure alien tourists. Now a Captain of the Foreign Policy Police in the wealthy resort city of New Venice, Parry is deeply grateful that this shining new future has given him a career as a moral persuader instead of a uniformed thug.

But the idyllic existence of Parry and his city is threatened when a human and an alien are found dead in a plush hotel room. Is it a suicide pact or a murder committed by xenophobic terrorists? The FPP must find out, and as the pressure mounts, Parry is afraid they may lose everything, including the alien tourists that are the city's livelihood and the humans' fragile, hard won peace.

This thoughtful novel, by British writer James Lovegrove, felt to me like a blend of a police procedural and a European art film. The book is structured around a murder investigation, but this is not a page-turner. Instead, Lovegrove spends a great deal of time painting in the details of his society and his protagonist, Parry, and pondering the nature of cultural bigotry and the inherent contradictions of trying to police a peaceful, democratic society.

In the SF spectrum, The Foreigners is a social satire in which the science fictional elements are simply plot devices. The alien tech is never explained, nor are the aliens, nor for that matter do we ever get a clear idea of why humans stopped warring when the aliens arrived. It's just set-up for Lovegrove's philosophical musings.

All of the characters in this book are strong, and there is quite a bit of action, but overall The Foreigners felt ponderous and I was left with the curious sensation that very little had happened. Also, I found it intellectually interesting, rather than involving. Jack Parry is a well-drawn protagonist but I didn't warm to him or come to care much about his problems.

Readers who like a literary style and sensibility, and intelligent fables will enjoy this very well-written novel, but it's a head book rather than a heart book, and firmly in the mainstream rather than genre.

Copyright © 2002 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

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