This is the Year Zero

{4.5/5} “Following their meeting with world leaders, and a single, carefully orchestrated press conference, the aliens had been keeping a studiously low profile. They were here, they claimed, strictly in a touristic capacity. They wished only to obtain the requisite visas to come and go as they liked, along with a supply of native currencies. In exchange for this they had offered certain philosophical constructs and technological devices. Details of their offerings had not yet been revealed, but apparently the deal had been satisfactory to all concerned.”

This is the Year Zero by Andrew Weiner was published in 1998. It’s a collection of science fiction short stories, mostly originally published in magazines in the 1980s and 90s.

“This is the Year Zero” — Aliens arrive on Earth and everyone greets them with tremendous excitement — well, not everyone but almost everyone. There are long lineups at the grocery store now but you can still get almost everything you got before — well, you can get potatoes and a bit of chicken. There is still radio — well, one radio station — and the voices say, “Wait and you will receive your instructions.” What’s going to happen? Should we or could we have resisted these aliens?

This story is divided into short chapters that let you see the progression of what happens after the aliens come. It’s an effective story from the point of view of someone who’s not sure the aliens have our best interests at heart.

“The Map” — Walker is a detective in Toronto who one day has an unusual dead body in an apartment. What’s unusual is that the body is wet, and they find out that it’s been in the lake. Whether the man was murdered or not, why would someone drag the body back into his 20th floor apartment? And what’s with the map that the deceased had under him, showing Toronto with a bunch of streets different from what they really are?

This story has an intriguing premise and Detective Walker follows the logic to its conclusion even if it defies his previously held worldview.

Aliens, time travel, and space ships are common features of science fiction stories. But they are featured in uncommon ways in these stories. The stories are memorable, with a subtle sense of humour.

Weiner is a Canadian author, and this is the first book of his I’ve read. I liked this book a lot, and will be on the lookout for his others.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2013 at 5:53 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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