Strangers by Gardner Dozios
Cover of first paperback edition
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
Strangers is a science fiction novel by American author Gardner Dozois, published in 1978.
The novel was expanded from its original form as a novella, which first appeared in New Dimensions IV (edited by Robert Silverberg) in 1974. The novella was nominated for both the Hugo Award|Hugo and Locus Poll Award, and has since been collected in Dozois's short fiction collection, Strange Days: Fabulous Journeys with Gardner Dozois.
The expanded novel was originally published by Berkley Books, and was nominated for the Nebula Award for Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Locus Poll Award.
Some Thoughts from Phlogiston, 11:56, 9 September 2016 (MDT)
Strangers by Gardner Dozios is a book about alien sex, marriage rites and emotions. At first look it’s a basic allegory of the ill-fated lovers type; but it seems to offer more. I’d hate to cast general aspersions on the genre as a whole, but Strangers feels far too sensitive a read to be genre-typical science fiction. There is some predictable ‘colony of earthlings’ stuff, in which character types appear and perform, but the real meat of the book is the extended theme of alien sex; the emotions, the pros and cons, and the damned unusual consequences of falling for an alien.
Science fiction can become boring when the point is too far pressed, or appears close to the surface, and I don’t think it does here. That is to say that there are obvious points being made, such as miscommunication between genders as well as many of the social problems of the 70s, such as interracial marriage, changing male-female relationships post-feminism, and the horrible difficulties of people refusing to deal directly with these issues. Yes, the allegory is there, but it’s never pushed in favour of the main chance, the story. This is the main balance in most science fiction, and a hard one to achieve; years of reading has shown me this.
A kind of hopelessness permeates the book, especially typified by the rather meaningless and unfulfilled life of the protagonist, an artist. This turns out to be quite addictive, and I think it was this ‘sad 70s’ tone that got me to the end. Once you’ve started out with this unfortunate character, and his emotional adventures with his alien love, it becomes hard, if not impossible to stop. What it means is that this novel feels like a downward slide, a downward, downward slide, to a sad ending, as sad as everything that has come so far.