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Xanthan Gumm by Robin Reed
Review by Paul Haggerty Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 159113899x
Date: 28 February, 2006 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Xantham Gumm is full of puns, really bad jokes, unbelievable coincidences, and of course, the biggest case of poor research ever performed by someone looking to emigrate. For entirely unexplored reasons, the galaxy has been mislead into believing that Earth is a planet of actors, and that the inhabitants spend all their time inventing newer and more fabulous fictional situations to put on film. The problem is that, for whatever reason, the galaxy thinks everything seen on film is fiction. After all, they reason, that's the only way to make sense of the stupid, vicious, uncharitable, and blatantly insane things shown.

So Xantham leaves the cruise ship and rockets towards Earth in his Glexo Nebula (with only 53,000 lightyears on the engine) and finds himself hovering over Chicago, since the location of Hollywood was another one of those minor details he never thought to check up on. Of course the military does what they always do to greet new visitors to our lovely blue globe, but fortunately for Xantham he forgot to get his in-atmosphere maintenance performed before he left home, and the sudden loss of power allows him to effortlessly, though completely unknowingly, avoid all the weapons that the greatest power on Earth throws at him. This stroke of luck does not, however, keep them powers that be from confiscating his ship once it is on the ground.

Now Xantham is stranded in a strange place that does not at all match what he's been led to expect; for one thing nobody seems to find his short, yellow-skinned, semi-amphibious body at all strange (mostly they just seem to look away, or even cross the street to avoid him), and even more shockingly, nobody wants to put him in a movie. While in most books this would be the time for the alien to come to grips with reality, Xantham's childlike enthusiasm seems more than up to the task of twisting the best reality can throw at him until it matches his predetermined template. Through luck, pluck, and in one case a form of deux ex machina intervention, Xantham learns to make friends, influence people, and continue his never ending quest to star in a feature film. Success or failure, however, will have to wait for the sequel.

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