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Written by: Alan Dean Foster
Review by: Ciara Grey


In this issue, I'll be taking a look at Alan Dean Foster's 'Interlopers'. Don't miss the accompanying interview with Mr. Foster.  
We all know a bunch of rules about writing. If you have been in workshops, the other members that critique your work are sticklers for some that I feel are more flexible. Alan Dean Foster shows how this can be done without jarring the reader. Sometimes the story requires you to bend a few 'sacred' rules in order to tell a good story.  
Interlopers begins with characters that are the creatures that 'feed' on human misery and negative emotions. Mr. Foster names them and gives them personalities. He shows the reader how they get their victims and where they live and how they communicate with each other. Then the main characters come into play and he drops the Interlopers' names unless they show up in their human hosts. This may seem to go against the rule of the first character(s) you introduce are going to be the main character(s) of the book. In order to get the reader interested in what the conflict is about in this story, it was necessary to use the secondary characters first. Even though he stopped naming them he kept them very much present in the story line.  
The characters (the good guys anyway!) are likeable and developed very well. The details of an archaeological dig site were accurate. (I have been a student of archaeology on and off over the years.) As Mr. Foster said in the interview he visited the archaeological site that he used in his book. I was amused by Foster's reference to a German heavy metal band. There is nothing worse than an author who doesn't do research about what they are writing! I have an idea for a story about nano-technology but I don't know enough about it to write the story. I am currently slogging through a pile of information about this new field.
Research is more work than the actual writing of the story in most cases. It pays off when someone reads your work and they are pleased to see the attention to detail. Even if the author writes about something totally from the realm of fantasy, such as Interlopers, the author should develop the idea as fully as possible so it sounds reasonable. Foster does this in a simple way with the Interlopers. He makes it very clear what they do and how they do it. By the end of the story you find yourself eyeballing that nice shade tree, wondering if there might be an Interloper lurking inside.  
There was one thing that bothered me about the writing. Mr. Foster repeated what the main character knew about these creatures and what he was going to do to keep them from destroying mankind. I have a strict  rule that I stick to very closely. I put forth an idea or plot or concept and build on it. I feel I'm insulting the reader's intelligence if I repeat what has happened before in the story over and over. People grasp a concept pretty much the first time they are presented with it.
Other than that, I thought this was a very good story.
I rate this book -
* * * * 1/2

Rating Scale:
* * * * * = Un-put-downable, excellent reading!
* * * * = Good value, interesting reading.
* * * = Had potential, but could have been better.
* * = Slow, difficult to read, could have been improved.
* = Imminently forgettable.



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