Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Jed the Dead by Alan Dean Foster
Alan Dean Foster has always written some "different" SF and Fantasy. Perhaps best known for his Pip and Flynx books, he also had the Spellsong series and then went through a phase reminiscent of Tom Robbins for a while. I think this book was written during that time period. My friend, Law, saw it at a used book store we were browsing one day, and we just couldn't resist adding the title to the library.
Ross Ed Hager is a redneck roughneck from Texas who decides that he wants to visit the Pacific Ocean before he turns thirty, so he sets out in his Cadillac on a road trip. While lunching at a roadside rest stop, he discovers the body of an alien in a cave, and strange things begin to happen. People whom he encounters see strange visions after they touch the alien, and while he's working in an airport bar to make some gas money, he begins to pretend that the Alien, whom he names Jed, is a ventriloquist's dummy. His routine is a little more inspired than he thinks, and he attracts the unwanted attention of Army Intelligence when somehow the dead alien (maybe he's only mostly dead), inspires him to reel off the chemical formula for a very efficient high explosive.
Ross Ed decides it's time to move on, and the rest of the book sees him pursued by the Army, bounty hunters, UFO nuts, L.A. producers, a couple of alien races, some revolutionaries, and a drug lord. Everyone wants a piece of Jed, and our hero from Texas ain't giving him up. Quirky entertainment, but nothing deep or especially new here.