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Eight O'Clock in the Morning

Ray Faraday Nelson

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    This may very well be the shortest book review I've ever written, not because this isn't an awesome story, but because it is only five pages long! So why, you ask, would I even bother writing a review? Short and sweet is the answer, and despite its brevity, it is a very significant story. Written in 1963, it later formed the basis for John Carpenter's sci-fi movie classic, They Live, from 1988. The story only takes a matter of minutes to read, but the whole plot is pretty much there. Yeah, of course, the movie greatly expands the ideas brought forth in the story, but had I not known the two were connected, I would have recognized the movie in the book in a flash. Here is Nelson's Wikipedia page, and the page for They Live. This story doesn't have a Wikipedia page but it was well-liked by the Good Readers at Goodreads. I do have one kind of humorous remark about it, which is that it has no literary style at all! It's more like a newspaper article, stating the series of events in a straightforward manner, but we really have no emotional reaction to any of it. But yet, of course, we know the movie, from which one cannot help but have a reaction, plus the fact that here in 2023 there are so many of us that know this is not science fiction, but indeed true. Yes, we are certainly being ruled by Aliens, and exposing them will end this surreal nightmare in which most of us live.
    The story begins like this:

   At the end of the show the hypnotist told his subjects, "Awake."
   Something unusual happened.
   One of the subjects awoke all the way. This had never happened before. His name was George Nada and he blinked out at the sea of faces in the theatre, at first unaware of anything out of the ordinary. Then he noticed, spotted here and there in the crowd, the non-human faces, the faces of the Fascinators. They had been there all along, of course, but only George was really awake, so only George recognized them for what they were. He understood everything in a flash, including the fact that if he were to give any outward sign, the Fascinators would instantly command him to return to his former state, and he would obey.

    So he leaves the theatre and see them all over, and sees the posters no one else can see except subliminally. They are on TV, but he finds that if he resists looking at them, he can resist them. In his little sleeping room, he disconnects the TV, but can hear the Reptilians croaking in other rooms. Then the phone rings, and it is one of them, who calls himself Chief of Police Robinson. He tells George he is an old man and that tomorrow at eight o'clock in the morning his heart will stop. He tells George to repeat it and George does. Whatever. George decides to do some damage before he goes, beginning with killing a "lovable old drunk," that he could see was really an Alien. Then he goes to his girlfriend's house and tries to get her to wake up by slapping her. Her neighbor knocks at the door, but it is really a Reptilian, and George kills him, and a few more, then takes his girlfriend's car and goes to a bar, where he sees them on TV but they don't have power over him anymore. Then he calls Robinson back and tells him he knows how to wake people up. He reaches the TV studio, where he kills the Alien who is sitting before the TV camera. The body remains sitting, so "George stood near him and said, imitating the alien croak, 'Wake up. Wake up. See us as we are and kill us!'"

   It was George's voice the city heard that morning, but it was the Fascinator's image, and the city did awake for the very first time and the war began.

    But George died of a heart attack at eight o'clock the next morning. And yes, OF COURSE I recommend reading this! It's free and takes ten minutes or less to read!! And for goodness sake, if you STILL haven't watched the movie, that's free, too, at Internet Archive linked above.

Illustration from Goodreads

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