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“Mrs Peel, we’re needed”: Passing for Human by Jody Scott (1986)

Passing for Human  was published in 1986  in  the Women’s Press science  fiction series.

This is a roller coaster  of a read, which   hits the road at speed  on page one  with  our  alien heroine   Benaroya racing down a Californian highway  in a stolen Mustang, outrunning the highway cops,  and engaging in a speed  duel with another motorist which ends in her rival’s Lotus  crashing and exploding, “Metal, glass and bits of human flesh rained down for hundred yards in every direction.” Ouch.

Benaroya  is an anthropologist, a member of the Rysemian race sent to Earth to assist in the construction of an intergalactic rapid transit system. Their spaceship  is in orbit above the Earth.

Preparing for this expedition, the Rsyemians had obtained several hundred Earthie movies including “The Godfather,” “Marked Women,”, “Duck Soup” and “You Were Never Lovelier.” They had analyzed and studied these films meticulously. They observed that humanity was epitomized in such specimens as Jack Oakle, Ronald  Reagan, Rochelle Hudson and  Hattie McDaniel. The mannerisms and speech patterns, songs and dances of many celebrities  had been carefully memorized.  and since the Rysemains were telepaths and could awlays probe to find out what was expected, fitting in would be no problem.

The Rysemians, who are large  aquatic dolphin-like creatures,  are able  to  disguise themselves as “Earthies,” changing bodies as easily  as changing a dress. Benaroya thus  spends part of the novel  as Emma Peel from The Avengers (which is why Emma Peel appears on the cover).

They face an enemy,  Scaulzo,  who is planning to takeover the   Earth, a task  which  the Rysemians think will be easy for him. 

Large crude, stupid, barbaric  males with criminal tendencies are worshipped. Flattering movies about them are churned out by the hundreds. They  run government, busines, religion, sport and  crime, which are actually  all the same thing.

The action moves around the globe like a Bond m0vie as Benaroya (now disguised as Virginia Woolf and packing a gun) and Scaulzo  move towards  their final confrontation.

Humour and satire  in science fiction is hard to get right (which is why Douglas Adams was a genius), but  for me this novel works.

 

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