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What is Scum of the Earth?

Ezra Barker is a traitor. When the Merg invaded Earth, he didn’t fight or even hide. He cooperated, helping them as they seized control of the planet and began their pillaging of its resources. While others toil away in mines and quarries, Ezra works an office job, helping his boss, The Senator, rule over the swath of territory given to her by the Merg.

Sergeant Hayes is a brutal enforcer of the Merg’s rules. As an officer in the Health and Safety Department, he follows Merg orders, arresting, interrogating, and executing at their command.

With collaborators like Barker, The Senator, and Hayes, the Merg are strip mining Earth, slaughtering its people, and destroying anyone who opposes them. The skies are gray, the air is poison, and the Merg seem invincible.

But there are others still fighting back.

Review

SCUM OF THE EARTH by Alexander C. Kane is a fascinating humor novel because it deals with some incredibly dark subject matter in a way that is never not fun or entertaining. Basically, it deals with Earth having been occupied by alien invaders and has its protagonist be the most repulsive sort of individual in fiction: the collaborator. Very rarely do we have these kinds of characters as anything other than scum and I recall Gaius Baltar as one of the rare individuals who is. Well, Captain Renault from Casablanca also qualifies but you need Claude Rains inhuman levels of charm to pull that off.

Ezra Barker was a senator’s aide when the Merg, a race of alien insectoids, conquered the planet within a few days. He was forcibly recruited into their bureaucracy by the Merg after his boss, The Senator (which becomes her title and name throughout the book), saves his life by saying he’s with her. Ezra becomes her primary handler of paperwork ranging from managing the slave mines, signing off on executions, and generally trying to keep his head down by doing whatever the Merg want.

Needless to say, Ezra is not a good person and he’s well aware of it. About his only redeeming feature is that he doesn’t exalt in the fact he has a nice apartment or the other meager perks of his jobs like not being sent into a labor camp. Indeed, he is an intensely lonely individual that spends most of his evenings looking across the street at the girl who brushes her hair in his window. Which isn’t creepy at all, no sir.

Contrasting Ezra are two other collaborators in The Senator and Sergeant Hayes. The Senator is an opportunist narcissist who deludes herself into believing every single promise the Merg make even as she also knows they’re all lies simultaneously. Very 1984. What really matters is whatever benefits her in the moment. Sergeant Hayes, by contrast, is a true believer. Having betrayed his closest friends, he clings to the delusion that the Merg will bring an age of utopian prosperity once they’ve accomplished their goals.

We get to meet the resistance too, which isn’t necessarily that much better than the opposite. Reconquest wants to restore humanity to rulership of the Earth but they can’t actually do anything meaningful and just cause endless retaliations against civilians. Worse, plenty of them take a glee in killing “collaborators” even when said individuals are just truck drivers or otherwise people who just want to save themselves or their families from being killed.

The fact this book is a comedy and not just a comedy but a gut-bustingly hilarious one is a testament to the comedic skills of Alexander C. Kane. It deals with some genuine moral issues with no clear answer nor does it portend to give any. It draws from things like Battlestar Galactica, They Live, and real life history to make a fascinating story. In any case, I for one welcome our new insect overlords.

Available here (Kindle)

Available here (Audible)

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