Eddie Robson, of the comic book ( 2000 AD, Transformers: Prime, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Captain America: Living Legend) and short story (mainly from his work in the mesmerizing Dr. Who series) brings us his third novel entitled, Drunk on all your Strange New Words. A book that I was thoroughly engrossed in until at 60%, in which I became hopelessly lost for a bit.
“The world has enabled so many bullshitters. It’s exhausting.”
The narrative is a locked room murder mystery, a “who done it,” if you will. The idea of the story is relatively straightforward; Lydia, who works as a translator for the alien cultural attache, becomes embroiled in political schemes, xenophobia, and more. All she wants is to keep her job and stay out of jail. The political machinations are not at the forefront of the story as in other science fiction novels. Instead, this is a light-hearted science fiction comedy with politics and a locked-door mystery.
The Logi is a species of first-contact aliens here on Earth, learning about our culture and who we are as a people. They are decidedly different than us; they speak via mind-to-mind communication, are more robust, and cannot abide our electronic technology. They prefer the tangible paper book to the electronic VR technology that is prevalent and used everywhere.
The protagonist Lydia is a wholly likable, flawed character. She is a little frazzled when an ordinary person should be distressed, and a bit lost when all the pieces don’t make sense. I appreciated that about her character. I find that often when you read this kind of murder mystery novel, the protagonist or lead “detective” has an extraordinary level of perception. One is not believable in any other character than Jane from The Mentalist and Sherlock Holmes. Lydia is no Sherlock or Jane. She is winging it as best as she can with the wits she grew up with and her education at the language institute.
The relationship between the Logi and their interpreters is exciting and well done. I have never thought about mind-to-mind communication that would make one of the parties drunk. They become “drunk on all your strange new words.”
The Logi are not dressed up as humans with human reactions; they are very much a different species than humans, although humans and Logi have figured out how to live and together. But there are responses and interplay between the humans and Logi that I can see happening, people being people and as varied as human beings are, a group would inevitably develop xenophobic reactions to the Logi and creatures that are so “alien.”
In the background, there is a climatic disaster. This story is taken place long after the seas have risen, large swaths of land are unusable, and few significant cities still exist. This backdrop is not done in a hamfisted way and is a nod to the real climatic concerns humans are dealing with now. This story is grounded in a possible future. One, I hope that will not happen.
Drunk on all Your Strange New Words is a new and entertaining novel by Author Eddie Robson. It is a wonderful way to laze the day away and learn about The Logi, their love of books made of paper, and the unfortunate occurrence that sets Lydia into a tailspin.