For the last quarter of a century, from his 1981 vampire novel “The Hunger,” through his 1986 alien-abduction auto-biography Communion, to his 1991 novel “Unholy Fire” Whitley Strieber has been writing some of the best books about psychic and metaphysical possession the world has ever read.
Strieber’s latest novel is (basically) about the elusive Communion aliens, “The Grays.” They’re shoved right in the reader’s face, well they are but we can’t look right at them. You know there’s a blind spot on the retina of each eye, right? Well, Strieber’s aliens make use of this human handicap in a truly terrifying way. It would seem that we can’t actually see them, and there’s nothing worse than an “invisible” enemy.
But an ordinary boy saves the world from mankind’s folly. The name of that boy is Conner Callaghan. And, in truth, he’s no ordinary boy. He has a special connection to The Three Thieves who are spooking the secluded town of Wilton, KY.
This book contains its fair share of human enemies like Colonel Michael Morax and Lauren Glass, a government “empath” who can also contact the Thieves, who strive to keep the secret of the Grays from the public consciousness.
Strieber’s added some subtle twists to his quarter-century-of-writing’s ever-pervasive Vampire lore… Yes, you did hear me correctly, vampires—most of his books are wretched with them. He’s also got a feel of Cocoon going in this one, glowing human-aliens. He’s basically a mischievous writer who doesn’t need to go on and on and on about his Grays—he could make a hurriedly—scribbled shopping list sound interesting—but it’s what he’s chosen to do with this book.
But why would he do what he did with the last 100 pages? Is he merely projecting human logic onto the great unknown? Philip K. Dick proved that never worked. Is Strieber still utterly confused about his own supposed alien abductions? Maybe to avoid dealing with the emotionality of his condition, he has fallen back on the dirty-old-bastard of (page turning, sure) convoluted narrative resolution. My fear is that Strieber’s merely a victim of the ultimate conspiracy theory, that of aliens and UFOs themselves. Who’s to say Strieber (as a mass-market prophet of the global lie to come) wasn’t “abducted” by “some government agency,” given some psychotropics, some implanted memories and thrown back into his bed with memories of alien grays?
I am not convinced by Streiber’s messianic narrative as it appears in this novel, I much prefer Strieber when he’s letting us experience through his writing rather than writing down to our expectation of story. For me, it would have been better if all the narrative threads SNAPPED at the final confrontation instead of a few (misguided) heroics that saved the day. There is no saving the day, there is only life.
Read More A book review of "Solving the Communion Enigma: What Is To Come."