An alien race who have chosen Earth as a tourist destination, the Foreigners are tall, golden-robed, elegant and unknowable. Their arrival has brought peace and stability to the planet, and no one wants to see this peace and stability maintained more than Jack Parry, a captain with the Foreign Policy Police. His job, in the beautiful offshore resort-city of New Venice, is to keep Foreign/human relations on an even keel — so when a Foreigner turns up dead in a hotel room, alongside an equally dead human, Parry is keen to get to the bottom of the incident as quickly as possible. Matters are complicated by the fact that the human is a Siren, someone paid handsomely to entertain Foreigners using the one human faculty that seems to truly delight them, the singing voice. There’s something a little unsettling about this practice, even a little sordid — but Parry has more than just anti-Siren prejudice to contend with. There’s also the Xenophobes, a political movement with the avowed aim of ridding the world of all Foreigners and restoring humankind’s destiny into its own hands.
The Foreigners is about the culture clash between those who have wealth and those who crave that wealth. The book’s genesis came about on a trip to the Far East, where I saw at first hand just how corrupting an influence Western tourism has had on countries such as Thailand, not only in the form of the sex industry but in every aspect of life. Almost everything there has — understandably — become geared to making money off Westerners, so I thought it would be interesting to turn the tables and have the whole world, Westerners especially, in thrall to aliens who have seemingly limitless wealth and an appetite for the best (or perhaps worst) we have to offer them. I chose the murder-mystery format to tell this story mostly because I’d always wanted to write a murder-mystery but also because I wanted to do one that wasn’t a whodunit so much as a whydunit. Why would someone want to kill something as apparently beneficial a Foreigner? What could they hope to gain? I also thought it would be interesting to have a central character who was a relentless optimist, someone who has seen the worst that people can do to one another — as a London policeman, Parry was involved in violently quelling a riot — and is nonetheless determined to believe that we can rise above our baser natures. The Foreigners tells how he is progressively proved wrong in this belief. Parry finds that darkness in the human soul is prevalent and ineradicable — even in his own soul. For a novel set in a whitewashed, sun-drenched city, The Foreigners proves to contain an awful lot of darkness.
Dave Golder, editor of SFX, named The Foreigners as his choice for best original novel of 2000.
- The Foreigners [Gollancz hbk, September 2000] – ISBN 978-0575068940
- The Foreigners [Gollancz pbk, August 2001] – ISBN 978-1857987911
- “This is a clever blend of detective novel and near-future SF… Lovegrove takes his usual dark style and creates a novel that is as unsettling as it is compulsive… one of the most original SF novels of the past few years” – Michael Rowley, The Alien Has Landed
- “Witty, thought-provoking and thoroughly readable — the minor and major themes skilfully harmonise into a finely tuned whole” – Dave Golder, SFX
- “The blend of an interesting and original puzzle, a likeable and interesting protagonist, and a cleverly depicted near future society results in an exciting and intelligently written novel” – Science Fiction Chronicle
- “Well-written, inventive and with an exotically detailed ‘New Venice’ setting… A grippingly told story of an ingeniously imagined future” – David Langford, Amazon.co.uk
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• Filed under Books • 08/09/2000 •