OR: The Astonished Eye

A review that originally appeared in The Third Alternative #29:-


Tracy Knight

PS Publishing hb, 192pp, £35

Ben Savitch returns to the town of Elderton, Illinois, from which his family moved when Ben was only seven. He’s now a cynical and world weary reporter for The Astonished Eye, a tabloid at the more sensational end of the spectrum, and he’s come to Elderton to follow up on reports of a UFO crashing. Aliens are only part of it though. Elderton is a place where magic is real. There’s a dead girl walking down the main street and the town’s resident genius has brought to life a superhero out of an old television series. Ben has stumbled on the story to end all stories, but in breaking it to the world he may just kill the magic.

Elderton and its people are a hybrid of Bradbury’s Green Town and television’s Eerie, Indiana. Savitch is pretty much the good guy gone bad and finding redemption in a Capraesque story, while the alien doesn’t serve much purpose except to stumble around spouting inanities. Sentimentalism is the keynote, nostalgia for the good old days of Mom, Dad, and Apple Pie, topped up with belief in magic to be found in ordinary lives. While there’s nothing much original here, the idea is a worthy one and Knight makes a reasonable fist of getting it down on paper. The end result though is very much a take it or leave it production.

NB There was a third paragraph to this review, in which I raged at the cover price. Umpteen years ago I felt that was pertinent, but nowadays £35 for a limited edition hb doesn’t seem a big deal, so I’ve omitted that paragraph as no longer relevant.

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