Thursday, September 22, 2011

Alien Contact Anthology -- Story #21

I have created an "Alien Contact Anthology" Facebook page; in the column to the right, scroll down a bit to see the widget. If you are an FB user, please consider a "Like" on this FB page for future updates, including the full text of more stories, book giveaways, and more. Alien Contact is now available for preorder from and other booksellers, and is forthcoming in November from Night Shade Books. This is story #21:

"Amanda and the Alien"
by Robert Silverberg

This story was originally published in the May 1983 issue of Omni magazine, and is approximately 6,400 words in length.

My connection to this story goes back to 2003, when Claude Lalumière and I selected it for inclusion in our co-edited anthology of sardonic fiction (aka stories with attitude) entitled Witpunk, which was published at the time by Four Walls, Eight Windows. So, in selecting some of the best "alien contact" stories of the past 30 or so years for this new anthology, how could I not include this classic Robert Silverberg story: "Amanda and the Alien."

Cribbing from a couple different reviews, if I had to sum up this story in one line, it would be: A deadly, shape-changing alien, who escapes from a government detention center, has the misfortune of meeting Amanda. Here's an excerpt from the beginning of the story:

Amanda spotted the alien late Friday afternoon outside the Video Center, on South Main. It was trying to look cool and laid-back, but it simply came across as bewildered and uneasy. The alien was disguised as a seventeen-year-old girl, maybe a Chicana, with olive-toned skin and hair so black it seemed almost blue, but Amanda, who was seventeen herself, knew a phony when she saw one. She studied the alien for some moments from the other side of the street to make absolutely certain. Then she walked over.

"You're doing it wrong," Amanda said. "Anybody with half a brain could tell what you really are."

"Bug off," the alien said.

"No. Listen to me. You want to stay out of the detention center, or don't you?"

The alien stared coldly at Amanda and said, "I don't know what the crap you're talking about."

"Sure you do. No sense trying to bluff me. Look, I want to help you," Amanda said. "I think you're getting a raw deal. You know what that means, a raw deal? Hey, look, come home with me, and I'll teach you a few things about passing for human. I've got the whole friggin' weekend now with nothing else to do anyway."

A flicker of interest came into the other girl's dark, chilly eyes. But it died quickly, and she said, "You some kind of lunatic?"

"Suit yourself, O thing from beyond the stars. Let them lock you up again. Let them stick electrodes up your ass. I tried to help. That's all I can do, is try," Amanda said, shrugging. She began to saunter away. She didn't look back. Three steps, four, five, hands in pockets, slowly heading for her car. Had she been wrong, she wondered? No. No. She could be wrong about some things, like Charley Taylor's interest in spending the weekend with her, maybe. But not this. That crinkly-haired chick was the missing alien for sure.


"Wait," the alien said finally.

Amanda took another easy step or two. Then she looked back over her shoulder.


"How can you tell?"

Amanda grinned. "Easy. You've got a rain slicker on, and it's only September. Rainy season doesn't start around here for another month or two. Your pants are the old Spandex kind. People like you don't wear that stuff anymore. Your face paint is San Jose colors, but you've got the cheek chevrons put on in the Berkeley pattern. That's just the first three things I noticed. I could find plenty more. Nothing about you fits together with anything else. It's like you did a survey to see how you ought to appear and then tried a little of everything. The closer I study you, the more I see…. You may think that you're perfectly camouflaged, but you aren't."


"Why should I trust you?"

"Because I've been talking to you for five minutes and I haven't yelled for the cops yet. Don't you know that half of California is out searching for you? Hey, can you read? Come over here a minute. Here." Amanda tugged the alien toward the newspaper vending box at the curb. The headline on the afternoon Examiner was:


"You understand that?" Amanda asked. "That's you they're talking about. They're out there with flame guns, tranquilizer darts, web snares, and God knows what else. There's been real hysteria for a day and a half. And you standing around here with the wrong chevrons on! Christ. Christ! What's your plan, anyway? Where are you trying to go?"

"Home," the alien said....
Amanda eventually contrives a way to use the alien to get even with her boyfriend, the aforementioned Charley Taylor, who stood her up that weekend. And to hell with the consequences. Typical seventeen-year-old behavior? You be the judge.

Amanda and the Alien was filmed in 1995 as a Showtime cable movie, directed by Jon Kroll (Big Brother, The Amazing Race, Blade: The Series), and starring Nicole Eggert (Baywatch), John Diehl (The Shield), Michael Dorn (Star Trek franchise), and Stacy Keach (Prison Break).

[Continue to Story #22]

No comments:

Post a Comment