Space Aliens Unite (Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett)

ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, book 1) by Terry Pratchett

The Johnny Maxwell books are not Terry Pratchett’s usual Discworld books. They are set in a very ordinary run down town in England, centering around Johnny Maxwell and his three friends. Johnny, whose parents are going through Trying Times, is playing his favorite video game when the aliens suddenly surrender to him instead of fighting back. He and his friends suspect a computer virus but things get even stranger when Johnny finds himself in incredibly lifelike dreams piloting a starfighter, leading the alien fleet home where they will be safe from mankind, and communicating with a girl who also is dreaming of the alien fleet. Pratchett adds those extra touches that regular readers love such as when they go by the ruined hulks of Space Invader ships tumbling in space that the aliens use to show each other what happens when you take a stand. His special genius, to my way of thinking, comes in how he treats the conversations and thinking of the kids, along with those little unexpected twists.

It was a very small ScreeWee. Most of its scales were grey. Its crest was nearly worn away. Its tail just dragged behind it. When it opened its mouth, there were three teeth left and they were huddling together at the back.

It blinked owlishly at them over the top of the trolley it had been pushing. Apart from everything else, Kirsty had been aiming the gun well above its head.

There was one of those awkward silences.

“Around this time,” said the Captain behind them, “the crew on the bridge have a snack brought to them.”

Johnny leaned forward, nodded at the little old alien, and lifted the lid of the tray that was on the trolley. There were a few bowls of something green and bubbling. He gently lowered the lid again.

“I think you were going to shoot the tea lady,” he said.

“How was I to know?” Kirsty demanded, “It could have been anything! This is an alien spaceship! You’re not supposed to get tea ladies!”

The Captain said something in ScreeWee to the old alien, who shuffled around slowly and went off back down the corridor. One wheel of the trolley kept squeaking.

Kirsty was furious.

“This isn’t going right!” she hissed.

“Come on,” said Johnny, “Let’s go to the bridge and get it over with.”

“I didn’t know it was a tea lady!” That’s your dreaming!”

“Yes, all right.”

“She had no right to be there!”

“I suppose even aliens get a bit thirsty in the afternoons.”

“That’s not what I meant! They’re supposed to be alien! That means slavering and claws! It doesn’t mean sending out for … for a coffee and a jam doughnut!”

About Julie Davis

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