Alien Alterations
Aliens and their technology delving into Earthly matters


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The High Crusade
by Poul Anderson (1960)


Medieval warfare goes interplanetary when a spaceship lands near the English village of Ansby where the men are preparing to set off on the latest crusade to the Holy Land. The aliens get more than they bargained for while the local knight hatches a grand plan to take advantage of the situation. Better known for his high sci-fi, here Anderson cuts loose and has a bit of fun.





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Way Station
by Clifford D Simak (1963)


Simak is famous for espousing simple pastoral values through his wonderfully gentle sci-fi tales. This is the story of a Civil War veteran whose farmhouse is an Earthly 'way station' for alien visitors. While in the farmhouse he does not age. When the local folk get suspicious the authorities close in, potentially threatening galactic peace. Highly recommended.





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A Plague of Demons
by Keith Laumer (1965)


Surgically altered super-guy finds himself in North Africa on a mission to check out a war. He discovers some wolfish aliens that are practically invisible (like Predator) who are harvesting the brains of dead soldiers for somewhat nefarious purposes. Making a well-deserved comeback thanks to recent re-publication with some bonus stories.





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Roadside Picnic
by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (1972)


Russia's Strugatsky Brothers were at the zenith of their expressionist phase when they penned this oblique story of aliens who stop-off on Earth for a picnic and trash the place with technological litter. What remains behind is The Zone - a place where men known as Stalkers face madness in search of inter-dimensional rewards. Filmed as Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky.





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Contact
by Carl Sagan (1985)


Sagan popularised astronomy through an entertaining series of TV documentaries in the early-80s. He followed the success of the Cosmos series with this highly entertaining novel about a series of radio telescopes that pick up some extraterrestrial communication. A hit 1997 feature film starring Jody Foster rekindled interest in the book.





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The Uplift War
by David Brin (1987)


Tried and true plot gets top class treatment in the third book of Brin's Uplift series. Patrons of the alien Progenitors make it their business to seed the galaxy and 'uplift' non-intelligent creatures. War threatens when humans develop a bit too fast - already uplifting chimps and dolphins. Works well as a stand-alone, but Sundiver and Startide Rising are also superb.





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The Forge of God
by Greg Bear (1987)


When two groups of aliens arrive on Earth it is difficult for humanity to work out who to believe. One promises peace and prosperity, while the other warns that trouble is on the way. While some at the time were disappointed that Bear had apparently moved away from 'high concept' sci-fi, this is undoubtedly one of his best and a popular favourite.





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Blindsight
by Peter Watts (2006)


When a myriad of alien satellites survey the Earth, a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. A crew of freaks and misfits is sent out to make first contact. What follows is an usual examination of identity and consciousness. Canadian author Peter Watts put his experience as a marine mammal biologist to good use in this neurologically induced nightmare.


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