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Little Green Men
Christopher Buckley
Random House, 300 pages

Little Green Men
Christopher Buckley
From the publisher:
"Christopher Buckley is a novelist and editor of Forbes FYI magazine. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children and dog, Duck. In 1998, he was inducted into the Légion d'honneur by the president of the Republic of France for 'extraordinary contributions to French culture,' despite the fact that his French is barely sufficient to order a meal in a restaurant. He has been an adviser to every president since William Howard Taft, a remarkable achievement, since he was born in 1952. His next book, a refutation of the theories of the physicist Stephen Hawking, will be published this fall by Princeton University Press."

Excerpt: Little Green Men
Review: Little Green Men
Interview: Christopher Buckley

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

John Oliver Banion1 hosts an influential political talking-head show on TV. He has a beautiful house in Georgetown, a permanent spot on the A-list of every Washington hostess of note, and commands lecture fees of $25,000 and up. Life is good -- until he's abducted by aliens at the 4th hole of the Burning Bush golf course. And, ummm... probed. And abducted again a few weeks later, on his way to give a lecture to the American Auto Consumer Association, a trade group for foreign-car dealers.

Nathan Scrubbs is Manager of Abductions for Majestic-12. a super-secret bureau that was started in 1947 to convince Joe Stalin that the US had found advanced alien technology at the Roswell crash site. Like all government programs, it's acquired a life of its own:

"A country convinced that little green men were hovering over the rooftops [would be] inclined to vote yea for big weapons and space programs."
In recent years, MJ-12 has turned to abductions and cattle-mutilations to maintain belief in UFOs. Staff mathematicians have devised a credibility algorithm for determining who to abduct next. Usually the program picks overweight housewives, but credibility figures are down, and Scrubbs has decided he needs a more prominent abductee....

Banion's wife, agent and TV-show sponsor are, well, not pleased when he begins a high-profile campaign to uncover the truth about alien abductions. But the UFO fans love it -- he's the most respectable spokesman they've ever had. Soon he has no wife, a new sponsor, a new hit TV show, and is calling for a "Millennium Man March" on Washington, to demand congressional UFO hearings. Except his televised call-to-arms is mysteriously interrupted with clips from "Space Bimbos from Planet Lust," a simulcast on the Yearning Channel...

I can't say much more without spoiling the fun, but no plot outline can convey Buckley's sly humour, surreal plot, equal-opportunity skewers and deadpan delivery. I find it remarkable that he can keep delivering wonderful one-liners, deadly digs at thinly-disguised ("Senator Bore") politicos, and weird but almost-believable scenarios for 300 pages. Buckley notes that the CIA actually did run such a scam in the early 60s. And he quotes First Friend/felon Webster Hubbell's assignment from President Clinton: "One: who killed JFK? And two, are there UFOs?" Which may account for Mr Clinton expressing an interest in Buckley's project that "seemed to go beyond the merely polite." Or are these more put-ons?2

Suffice it to say that, if you liked "Thank You for Smoking," Little Green Men is for you. And if you missed "Smoking"3, you have two treats in store.

1 Think George F. Will, and note Banion's initials.

2 I was unable to verify Buckley's factual(?) statements, above. But stranger things have happened:

"In the [3-10-99] N.Y. Times there's an obituary of the CIA guy who did all of the LSD experiments, Sidney Gottlieb. He just died at 80. His hobbies were folk dancing and herding goats. He loved LSD: he took it, and I quote, 'hundreds of times.' He conducted 150 separate mind-control experiments. One guy jumped out a window and was killed. I'll just include you a bit: 'Government documents and court records show that at least one participant died, others went mad, and still others suffered psychological damage after participating in the project, known as MK-Ultra.' The experiments were useless, Mr Gottlieb concluded, shortly before he retired in 1972. The CIA awarded Mr Gottlieb the Distinguished Intelligence Medal...

"...We must soldier on, despite the appalling odds against our coming up with something more piquant than the morning headlines."
(from author interview at

3 Wm. J. Clinton, on "Smoking": "That's the funniest goddam book I've ever read!" Your reviewer concurs.
(from author interview at

Copyright © 1999 by Peter D. Tillman

Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for Usenet, "Under the Covers", Infinity-Plus, Dark Planet, and SF Site. He's a mineral exploration geologist based in Arizona. More of his reviews are posted at .

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