by Murray Leinster



The Greks Bring Gifts

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Murray Leinster's The Greks Bring Gifts was published in 1964 and certainly shows signs of being dated.  The basic situation is well presented and the characters are not entirely stock characters, Leinster includes too many twists for that to be true, but there is a certain innocence or naiveté underlying the events of the novel.  The Greks are an alien race who happen upon the Earth in their quarter-mile long spacecraft.   Rather than invade the Earth, they altruistically offer humans almost unimaginable wealth and technology.  Staying for only six months to teach humans the rudiments of Grek technology, the aliens leave, promising a warantee visit ten years in the future.   All Earth celebrates the introduction of a new Golden Age when Man will no longer have to work and everyone will become millionaires.

Into this scene are thrust Jim Hackett and his girl Lucy Thale.  Hackett is the youngest physicist ever to be nominated for the Nobel Prize (he lost), but who couldn't grasp the basics of Grek technology.  Lucy has recently received her medical degree.   On the way to the lift-off site, the two witness an accident of an Aldarian, one of the races which came with the Greks.  Lucy saves the Aldarian's life and the alien gives her a small keepsake, hinting that not all Aldarians are deaf, as the Greks have told the Humans.  From this initial clue, Hackett begins to question the Greks, eventually coming to the conclusion that all Greks are liars.

What really sets The Greks Bring Gifts apart from being a run-of-the-mill novel is Leinster's treatment of Lucy Thale.  Nearly all the important discoveries are made by Lucy, although Hackett is generally credited with them.  Hackett does recognize Lucy's contributions, but he feels he needs to serve as a buffer, partly so the ideas would be taken seriously, but mostly to protect Lucy from the dangers which may lie in store for her is she were to act on her discoveries.

There is a religious aspect to The Greks Bring Gifts as well, although Leinster downplays it almost out of existence.  Before the Greks appear, mankind has his typical range of problems.  The Greks come and help Humans and then leave, promising a return visit.  As things do not work out the way the Greks initially promised, people begin looking on the Greks' return in terms of being a saviour to mankind whose second coming will usher in a promised golden age after humans screwed up the gifts the Greks initially bestowed upon the race.

The writing in The Greks Bring Gifts isn't always great, although it is usually solid.  Leinster tells the story with few frills, but enough asides to show that he has thought of some of the social, political and economic ramifications of the appearance of the Greks.  The Greks Bring Gifts may be a clear product of the mid 1960s, but the story is well told and, while dated, does not suffer too much from the passage of thirty-five years.

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