[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
Hugo and Nebula Winner

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Review Excerpts

Robert J. Sawyer's Illegal Alien

[Illegal Alien]

"I don't need to say that Sawyer is good — you already know that. But I can assure you that he hasn't slipped. You'll enjoy this one." —Analog

"Sawyer's most Asimov-ish book to date. A fast-paced blend of first contact and whodunit that touches upon a lot of issues and crams a whole bunch of good old hard-sf speculation into a very tight plot. A good read." —Bakka Books in-store review

"It's the total business! A cracking courtroom drama and proper science fiction. No compromises with either element. Ingenious construction, wholly satisfying!" — K.A. Bedford, Aurealis Award-winning author of Eclipse

"The best aliens since Larry Niven's puppeteers." — Ken Day, CHAY-FM

"If you like Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham, you might like Illegal Alien by Robert J. Sawyer." —Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

"The dust jacket blurb makes the claim that `Robert Sawyer is Canada's only native-born, full-time, science fiction writer.' The claim is irrelevant: He sets a standard for writers of any nationality. Illegal Alien is one of few first-contact novels that has even a smattering of originality. Sawyer mixes tongue-in-cheek (although these aliens don't seem to have tongues or cheeks) humor with courtroom drama and impending doom for humanity. The result is a tightly written page turner that satisfies from the start." —Denver Rocky Mountain News

"This is one fine courtroom drama, with enough twists in the plot to keep any mystery fan flipping the pages; it puts Perry Mason and John Grisham to shame. The novel is far too good to attempt to summarize; let's just say that Sawyer delves into all sorts of strange and wonderful conflicts, including the war between science and belief, and just what God may or may not be. Illegal Alien is the best Canadian mystery of 1997." —Margaret Cannon in The Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper

"As always, Sawyer provides crackerjack characters, a fresh approach and an intelligent, complex plot. Highly recommended." —H. J. Kirchhoff in The Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper

"As gripping as anything encountered by Perry Mason."—James Gunn

"An intriguing mix of science fiction, mystery and courtroom drama." —The Hartford Courant

"Science fiction and suspense mingle as Earth's first alien visitors become suspects in a murder trial, when expert worldbuilder Sawyer takes the action to our own planet. Recommended." —Locus

"Illegal Alien appears to be the first First Contact courtroom-drama murder mystery. The book offers a detailed treatment of the court system, from jury selection onward, wrapped around a Nivenesque alien-nature puzzle. Illegal Alien offers a genuinely science-fictional Idea story that should be intelligible to readers outside the SF subculture. It could be that rare animal, a crossover book that can be enjoyed on both sides of the great divide." —Locus (again)

"Few novels (science fiction or otherwise) can match Illegal Alien for imagination and intelligence. Sawyer has created a smart and satisfying mystery, but he spends more time on the bigger questions. Why do we tend to presume people are guilty merely because we don't like them? Why do we often think someone's being standoffish, and fail to understand that we're making him uncomfortable? And why, for crying out loud, do we assume that someone who looks different from us can't possibly, inside, be just like us? Sawyer keeps us distracted by these rather vital questions, and we're caught looking the other way when he springs his big surprise at novel's end. But still, after we've shaken our heads a few times, and caught our breath, we're left thinking not about a writer's cleverness, but about ourselves, and how we'd behave if we were one of the story's characters." —Mystery News

"A fascinating tale that is an eerie parallel to the O.J. Simpson trial." —The Mystery Review

"Robert Sawyer examines everything from human evolutionary quirks to racism within the American legal system. The mystery is carefully constructed to illuminate the differences between the two species." —New Scientist

"Sawyer skillfully blends courtroom drama with first-contact science fiction — Arthur C. Clarke, meet John Grisham. Sawyer displays an impressive depth and breadth of both legal and scientific research — his aliens and his lawyers are equally credible. In its discussion of law and culture, of Tosok religions and taboos, of the impact of physical circumstances on biological and social evolution, among many other areas, Illegal Alien provides us with messages and metaphors that humanity will have a continuing need to hear. Sawyer suggests that compassionate idealism (also embodied in the law, at its best) is what saves species and worlds from falling into darkness. Ultimately, Illegal Alien is a deeper and more important novel than its high-concept title and quick-reading, highly polished, and highly contemporary surface might suggest. It admirably combines the hard side of science, law, and order with the softer side of compassion and idealism. As a book that calls us to think and feel outside our own preconceptions, it is well worth the thoughtful sf reader's attention." —The New York Review of Science Fiction

"Absorbing. Sawyer carefully underplays everything in this solid SF version of a legal thriller. The aliens are described in fascinating detail, and there are several worthwhile mysteries to be solved." —Publishers Weekly

"A tour de force of intricate, puzzle-like complexity. Well worth reading for its cleverness, its portrayal of a fascinating alien race, and its thematic consideration of the role of philosophical and religious beliefs among rational beings." —Science Fiction Age

"Some of the best trial scenes in SF, an intriguing mystery, interesting aliens, and a sinister backplot, all excellently balanced. Add another hit to Sawyer's string." —Science Fiction Chronicle

"An enjoyable thriller where legal points and jury psychology matter more than astrophysics. The trial is fascinating: Robert J. Sawyer obviously enjoys depicting the foibles of American justice, and lawyer Dale Rice, who is both principled and unscrupulous, is a fine character. The ending is satisfying and a clever epilogue will leave readers hoping for a sequel." —Starlog

"Sawyer deals metaphorically with the issue of racism in the courts, but entertains the reader with sharp wit along with the heavier themes." —The Nashville Tennessean

"So many science-fiction accolades have been showered on Robert J. Sawyer that it's all too easy to forget his prizes include an Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada. So it should come as no surprise to find Sawyer's latest book embracing clues, criminals and cross-examination in an immensely satisfying whodunit. Pro that he is, Sawyer takes pains to ensure that everything we need to know about the aliens is exposed early in the novel and that every piece of info pointing to the killer is right there in plain sight. And sci-fi fans should note that Illegal Alien is as much a true science-fiction novel as it is a mystery." —The Toronto Star

"Innovative, imaginative, and pioneering — not just excellent sf but also excellent popular literature . . . a fast-paced, exciting book that shows the imaginative heights to which science fiction writers can climb when they combine sf with something else." —The Washington Post

"Imaginative and enjoyable. Sawyer not only builds up his mystery masterfully, he also demonstrates a deft sense of humour." —Whitehorse (Yukon) Star

"Blends the world of John Grisham with that of Frederik Pohl or Larry Niven. Sawyer's skillful use of dialogue moves the case and the novel briskly along. Illegal Alien has a lot to offer those who enjoy sophisticated alien / human morality plays." —The Winnipeg Free Press

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