BOOK OF RALPH
by CHRISTOPHER STEINVOLD
MEDALLION PRESS | 2016
Paperback: 416 pages
Genre: SCIENCE FICTION / HUMOR
Review Source: ARC from Edelweiss
A message appears on the moon. It is legible from Earth, and almost no one knows how it was created. Markus West leads the government’s investigation to find the creator.
The message is simple and familiar. But those three words, written in blazing crimson letters on the lunar surface, will foster the strangest revolution humankind has ever endured and make Markus West wish he was never involved.
The message is ‘Drink Diet Coke.’
When Coca-Cola denies responsibility, global annoyance with the beverage-industrial complex becomes indignation. And when his investigation confirms Coca-Cola’s innocence, Markus West becomes one of the most hated men on Earth.
Later, five miles above the White House, a cylinder is discovered floating in the night. It is 400 feet tall, 250 feet in diameter, and exactly resembles a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Nearly everyone thinks the cylinder is a promotional stunt gone wrong, just like the lunar advertisement. And this is exactly what the alien in the cylinder wants people to think.
Ralph, an eccentric extraterrestrial who’s been hiding on the moon, needs Markus’s help to personally deliver a dark warning to the White House. Ralph has a big heart, a fetish for Andy Warhol, and a dangerous plan to save the world.
Looking upon the cylinder, Markus realizes we are not the ones in control. The unexpected guest becomes the host, and somehow humans never belonged: “We are the homeless orphans peeking through the banquet window. We are the frills of the universe gazing upon something unspeakably more central than ourselves.”
An alien landing at the White House in a 400 foot tall Campbell’s soup can was not the way I envisioned “first contact” would happen but it sure captured my attention. So despite my aversion to sci-fi, satire, and dark humor, I knew I had to read this book. In the end I rated the book 3 -stars and that decision rested more on my unfamiliarity with this genre. It would be like asking a kindergarten to tell you how to play a game of chess.
The first chapters were filled with quirky humor as the Earthlings try to rationalize what was happening with an irrational situation. The sideshow alien, Ralph, has been holed up on the moon for 10 years scanning Earth records and transmissions devising a lighthearted way to arrive on Earth thus avoiding panic. (Ten years not even a decimal point in time to a 19,000 year old.)
Ralph’s continued juvenile and giddy responses when pressed about an impending alien invasion began to bug me. Excruciatingly slow in my opinion, Ralph shares his message with his new “Earth brother”, Mark West. Rather than concentrating on character development, the author concentrated on convoluted references to Biblical passages and lectures on philosophy and Freud’s theory of the ego that confused me along with the protagonist, Mark.
About 75% of the way through the book, the story picks up a little steam leading to an interesting conclusion. Sorry. No spoilers.
Switching to a more positive note, I enjoyed a good part of the book. Much like raising children, there are days you could pack on them on an ice floe and send them out to sea but overall you want to treasure their time with you. So, I’ll end by saying this – if you like quirky mindless sci-fi with a tinge of violence and satire this book is for you. Personally I am going to stay away from apocalyptic alien invasions; we Earthlings are doing a fine enough job on that topic by ourselves.