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After the Blue
Russel Like
Brunswick Galaxy Press, 253 pages

After the Blue
Russel Like
About the novel Russel Like says:
In After The Blue, Jamesburg, New Jersey is the largest remaining city on Earth. Jamesburg is actually a real place, and some of the inhabitants of the real Jamesburg have told me that After The Blue has resulted in the best press Jamesburg's ever received (Jamesburg, when it makes the news at all, normally does so because of escapes from a state reform school for boys which is located on the edge of town). But the people of the real Jamesburg were sufficiently pleased with After The Blue that, at their Memorial Day ceremonies, the mayor presented me with a commendation which commended me for my "accurate portrayal of the people of Jamesburg in his book, After The Blue. The determination and fortitude and ingenuity of his fictional characters are indicative of the people of Jamesburg today. The book, a satirical comedy, will become an excellent movie, and we look forward to it being filmed in Jamesburg." I'm not sure if they threw in this last part about the filming because they want to show how accommodating they would be to the intrusion of a film crew shooting the story, or because they view After The Blue as a municipal economic development project. But I'm glad they like the book, since I didn't ask for anyone's permission before appropriating their town for my novel.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Tired of waiting for the next Douglas Adams opus? Afraid the Red Dwarf franchise has been milked for all its worth? Don't give in to despair; there must be other knee-slappers out there. Well, with a minimal amount of digging, I have found one for you.

After the Blue had a harder road to life than most of the novels on your bookstore shelf. At one point, it appeared dead-in-the-water as its original publishing house stalled, slowed, and then gave up the right to print it. But, Russel Like wasn't giving up that easy; he researched the possibilities and decided to self-publish. Usually, that is fairly reliable evidence that a book should have remained unseen, but in this case it is definitely the publisher's loss.

Uncovering this little treasure will be your gain.

Earth, in the not-so-distant future is a radically changed planet. Most of the world lies in ruins, reclaimed by the wilderness always waiting nearby. No planes drone overhead. No television signals bounce from satellites. No monster concert tours scream into the night. No people no more. Or hardly any.

This is the world after the Gruumsbaggians' momentous and catastrophic visit from the stars. The people of Earth pretty much boils down to the town of Jamesburg, New Jersey. Aside from a few "wanderers," Jamesburg is it. And the folks of the small town are getting along just fine until they encounter something they hoped never to see.

A century after their initial visit, the Gruumsbaggians have returned. The humans fear it is to finish the job their bacteria started. Soon, they realize the answer is much worse: the aliens have come back to repair the damage they inadvertently caused. Even worse, they are armed with the sketchiest and just plain wrong conclusions about how Earth operated. That isn't going to stop them, though, from getting the planet and its people back to where they think we were when they so rudely interrupted.

After the Blue is a first novel, but it doesn't show. Russel Like writes with an easy, assured style and a dry wit that speaks of years of experience. Or, maybe, he's just one of the lucky ones who gets it right on the first try.

The showdown between the remaining humans and the Gruumsbaggians is a case of our own pop culture coming back to haunt us. It's a struggle to overcome a well-meaning, but misinformed invasion force. If there is a disappointment at all, it is that the humans feel compelled to sink to violence to fight back. But, that's all right; when have humans ever failed to disappoint.

Perhaps, in the case of Russel Like, we have an author who knew he had a good thing and refused to give up. Let's just assume he didn't stoop to violence to achieve his goal. I'm fairly certain he didn't.

Copyright © 1998 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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