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October 2002
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Thinning the Herd  by David L. Fraley
Digihouse Inc
: ISBN 0971303207 PubDate May 02
Review by Ernest Lilley
336
pages List price $24.95  
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It's the end of the world as we know it, and everyone feels fine.
It's The Day the Earth Stood Still meets Childhood's End.
It's Earth without man. It's a book without dialog.

As writing goes, it's a bit rough, but despite the somewhat stacato tone of Fraley's prose, he's got something to say, even if it's just to get it off his chest, and I liked Thinning the Herd. It reminds mme a bit of Sheri Tepper's, The Fresco (see review), where aliens show up to help out humanity, whether we like it or not.

Unlike the alien in The Day The Earth Stood Still, the Visitors have remarkably little to say to mankind. They've been around the block a few times and our brand of technological egocentrisism, with it's accompanying eco-destruction, just isn't news to them. Nor do they have any delusions about reforming us. By the time the Visitors arrive, we've been judged by our deeds, found wanting, and asked to move off the stage.

Asked nicely. In fact, the Visitors aren't in any hurry to get rid of humanity, they just aren't going to let any more come along. That's right, instant global infertility. Welcome to the last generation of humanity. Techno-Humanity, anyway. There's more than a little of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End in here as well 

The main characters are a pair of folks who were in the right place at the right time and wound up as America/Humanity's ambassador to aliens that don't want to talk to anyone. So, we follow along in the book as the Earth gets mysteriously cleaned up, exclusion zones full of wild animals and surrounded by force fields appear, and humanity grows grayer and grayer as we count down to extinction.

Can anybody stop this? Does anybody care? Should anybody care?

While there are a lot of classic SF elements here, it's good to have voices from the outside speaking up. Fraley reminds me a bit of another self published author, James Halprin, who wrote The Truth Machine and The First Immortal. Coming from outside the SF community, they both bring a fresh viewpoint to the usual questions. Established authors might like to dismiss such outsiders, having long ago settled whatever questions they address to the SF community's satisfaction, but every now and then some new blood trickles in. Fortunately.

I hope Fraley keeps writing. He's got a way to go in terms of learning his craft, but his ideas are good and his voice fresh. 

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