It seems so strange to interrupt an ongoing tribute to a now deceased famous person who affected my life significantly…to talk about recent deaths of similarly significant celebrities. And yet here I am, writing this post rather than writing one of my Cravenous reviews as I continue to make my way (very slowly) through Wes Craven’s oeuvre.
There have been several deaths recently within the celebrity circuit. It’s rather alarming, actually, how many famous people have departed the realm in the past month or so
I almost feel as though I need to apologize for having never read this science fiction classic before now. Tangentially, I also feel as though I should apologize for having never seen the David Bowie movie either, especially now after having read the book and realizing that of the few people who could plausibly play the eponymous character, “back in the day” skinny androgynous Bowie would be at the top of that list.
I do intend to rectify the movie issue soon, and I’m quite pleased that I have now rectified the literary side of this sci-fi faux pas of mine. Walter Tevis’s novel is, quite simply, marvelous. Rather than being all about the ‘splosions and space battles, The Man Who Fell to Earth is instead a quiet treatise on the more sociological/philosophical/political aspects of the genre. The story focuses on the arrival, survival, integration, and subsequent discovery of “Thomas Jerome Newton,” an Anthean sent to Earth as a savior for his nearly extinct people.
The story as it flows from Tevis’s imagination is provocative and introspective, composed of poetry and perfect prose. If you find traditional science fiction to be intimidating, you might want to give this story a try. This could very well be the gateway drug that will pull you into the genre.
Also, for a book originally published in 1963 (there have been minor updates to the text since then), this story never feels outdated. To the contrary, it almost completely transcends the shackles of age that so many “futuristic” novels cannot escape. Admittedly, there are some gadgets and gizmos that come across as charming and quaint. Some, however, are quite prescient.
Final Verdict: I do believe that The Man Who Fell to Earth will be falling into my collection at some point soon.