On Earth as It Is on Television

Hyperion Avenue. Jun. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781368092999. $27.99. SF
DEBUT Jane’s novel subverts the classic first-contact story to explore humanity’s responses to uncertainty in the modern age. Here, aliens came to Earth—and then left, leaving humanity to process their new place in the universe. Through interconnected stories Jane details the aftermath. Passive dad Blaine tries to corral his children while his wife acts increasingly erratic. Resentful teen Heather suspects there’s something unnatural about her perfect stepdad. And Oliver, unresponsive for the last 20 years, awakens and makes an unexpected friend. Their three stories converge while an increasingly panicked world waits to see if the aliens are coming back. As the title suggests, the novel comments on how people process their lives through mass media. It eschews intergalactic conflict for a meditation on the importance of family and the joys of a mundane existence, no matter what crisis hangs overhead. When key confrontations arrive, their resolutions are oddly subdued, but maybe that’s the point. Not everything is a spectacle. Most of the time, the world doesn’t end.
VERDICT Jane’s energetic and contemporary debut will appeal to fans of family-focused sci-fi like Mike Chen’s Light Years from Home.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing