First Contact combines Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams into sci-fi literary fiction that will have you chuckling almost til the very end. The one problem with it is that the author couldn’t keep his own two cents out of it, so begins to interject with his own drivel, particularly toward the end. While I do recommend reading this because it was funny, relevant to the recent political state (as in pre-Obama) of the US, and if nothing else, will instill in you a desire to reread the original great gentleman, do prepare yourself to have the author talk out his own problems at you.
The story is really about Ralph Bailey, the current U.S. President’s attache, and the course of his life pre-and-post alien contact. The hyper-intelligent beings from the planet Rigel-Rigel have contacted Earth. They’ve calculated, you see, that the people of Earth are on a bad personal trajectory, heading for the ruination of the entire planet if they don’t change their lifestyles soon. Using drugged bundt cake and fruit punch, the aliens attempt to encourage the people of Earth, or certainly the President and those at the official first dinner, to have an enlightened experience and reevaluate their course in life. As humans tend to have a contradictory nature, not all goes according to plan.
The reader is also introduced to Ned, a Rigelian ambassador, and his wife Maude, who is having some driving issues on their home planet. Jessica Love, Ralph’s girlfriend, features heavily, as well, as do Woody Allen movies, Dr. Pepper, Orthodox Jews, hip-hop, YouTube, and the quite religious views of the President of the United States.
Does First Contact work as political commentary? Yes. Does it work as a comedy? Assuredly. Does it work as a platform for either therapy or a personal ad for the author? No. But once you get over that bit, enjoy the other bits, and laugh out loud.