Author: Patrick Tilley
Published: 14 December 2017 (first published in 1975)
Personal Context and Initial Thoughts: NetGalley provided me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. So when I downloaded this book, I didn’t realize that it had originally been published in 1975. I had been reading the story under the assumption that it was a newly-written novel, and that likely colored some of my perceptions of it. I shall, as always, endeavor to remain unbiased in my evaluation of it.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When an object of undeniably extra-terrestrial origin appears, the world is thrown into panic. Is this alien race harmless or a danger to humanity? Nine weeks later, civilization is on the edge of a total breakdown more devastating than any nuclear war or natural disaster.
Patrick Tilley, author of best-selling science fiction series The Amtrak Wars, creates in Fade-Out a chilling thriller of humanity’s first contact with advanced alien intelligence; a high tension tour-de-force that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.
My Review of…
…The Plot and Pace:
Fade-Out was rather difficult to finish. It took nearly three times as long to finish this story as other books of this size. Tilley effortlessly displayed the fish-out-of-water feeling humanity would experience if we were ever to come into contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence. The only lifeline I had in connecting to this story was the science-speak. The first third of the book moved very slowly and was inundated with building suspense and creating a foundation for the plot. This was the largest obstacle in my way, and it wasn’t until about half-way through the story that it became page-turning.
…The Characters and Relationships:
The solitary saving-grace of this story was Arnold Wedderkind. Scientific Advisor to the President, Arnold was the head of the research group responsible for investigating the alien spacecraft that landed on Earth, “Crusoe.” I found the main character of Fade-Out, Robert Connors, to be rather distasteful and oddly unrelatable. Terribly manipulative, with a penchant for deception, Connors might be the protagonist, but he was certainly not a hero.
The other issue I had with this story was the complete and utter lack of diversity. The entire cast of the story consisted of middle-aged-white-men. The only women mentioned were either love-interests of the male cast-members or practically nameless flight-attendants and secretaries. Until I realized that this was written in 1975, I was severely peeved that a contemporary story would still have a white-washed cast with misogynistic undertones and anti-semitic sentiments. While the publication date doesn’t make any of that excusable, it does provide some explanation.
…The Writing Style and Mechanics:
Free from grammatical and syntactical issues, Tilley’s language wasn’t difficult to follow. With such an enormous cast of characters involving multiple countries, bureaucracies, and government agencies, Fade-Out‘s plot was a bit convoluted.
…The Message(s) and Theme(s):
It is my opinion that Fade-Out is a lesson-in-tolerance. Wrought with the consequences of aggression, arrogance, and pride, Fade-Out should be a lesson to the world of the importance of diplomacy and caution.
I didn’t enjoy Fade-Out as much as I wanted to. I found the plot to be difficult with which to engage, and the cast of characters to be downright, eye-rolling unlikeable. The science-speak was the only thing with which I was able to relate, and it was the only thing that got me through it. All of that aside, I think it serves as an important reminder of the importance of temperance, patience, diplomacy, and caution in the face of the unknown and the unexpected. It highlights the arrogance of Man (and also the gender) and the dangers, and often-times utterly stupidity of aggression and deception in politics.