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Alan Dean Foster
Ace Books, 313 pages

Jerry Vanderstelt
Alan Dean Foster
Alan Dean Foster was born in New York City in 1946 and was raised in Los Angeles. He received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema from UCLA in 1968-69 and then spent two years as a copywriter for an advertising and public relations firm in Studio City, CA.

His first sale as a writer was a long Lovecraftian letter, purchased by August Derleth for the bi-annual magazine The Arkham Collector. His first novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, was published by Ballantine Books in 1972. Many, many novels followed. Alan Dean Foster's correspondence and manuscripts are in the Special Collection of the Hayden Library of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Foster and his wife live in Prescott, Arizona.

Alan Dean Foster Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Phylogenesis
SF Site Review: Into the Thinking Kingdoms
SF Site Review: Carnivores of Light and Darkness
Alan Dean Foster Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

Archaeologist-in-training Cory Westcott is helping to excavate Apachetarimac, a pre-Inca site high in the Peruvian Andes. He discovers a mysterious sealed cave, full of spectacular Chachapoyan carvings and pictographs, and meets his future wife, beautiful fellow student Kelli Alwydd.

Cory and Kelli finish their Ph.D's, and both win appointments to the faculty of ASU in Tempe, Arizona. Cory deciphers the recipe for a Chachapoyan shamanistic potion. With the help of an ASU chemist, he brews the stuff and drinks it. Nothing much happens -- he gets terrible stomach cramps -- until he passes the Chemistry building and sees a raging fire in his colleague's lab -- and he starts seeing weird creatures, with teeth & tentacles, in every tree and rock in Tempe. Hungry creatures... that no one else can see!

And, as he finds out, the invisible monsters -- the Interlopers -- can burrow inside a person, to feed on their sorrow, pain, anger, discontent -- and control the victim to produce maximum food-value. Or to eliminate a threat -- as Cory discovers when he's visited by Uthu, a possessed Asian, with a 'friendly' warning to stop his research -- or else.

Possession by invisible aliens, who force the hag-ridden to do horrible things, was a common SF theme in the paranoid 40s and 50s -- and it is still a popular explanation for all the troubles in the world: "the devil made me do it." Interlopers reminds me most of an old Jack Vance novel, Nopalgarth (aka The Brains of Earth -- which is worth looking for if you like this sort of thing). And, of course, the fear of a 'demon-haunted world' dates back to the flickering campfires of prehistory...

Interlopers is competent commercial fiction, and I enjoyed reading it. I particularly liked the explanation for all those horrible sitcoms: the Interlopers hate a good belly-laugh (it gives them indigestion), so they've heavily infiltrated TV and Hollywood, to kill off all the good humour shows. And the globe-trotting scenes are nicely done -- the author is a noted traveller. But the book would have benefitted (sigh) from a more diligent editor, who might have blue-pencilled stuff like (in sketching a senior archaeologist) "beneath his shirt and shorts, small, corded muscles exploded like caramel popcorn." Or, describing a tropical town, "aspects of the old South Seas clung to it like lost adjectives from a novel by Conrad." Sheesh.

The bottom line: Interlopers is a "B" book, decent airplane reading -- but Alan Dean Foster's done better.

Copyright © 2001 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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