“A novel of surprising poignance . . . Amusingly quirky . . . [Portrays] a human world that’s both in thrall to a tabloid culture of quick money and in search of some kind of spiritual redemption.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
978-0-8021-3782-1 • $12.00 • Paperback • Jan. 2001
With Mr. Spaceman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler has created a magical and humorous contemporary fable that captures the state of humanity at the cusp of a new millenniumas seen through the uniquely sensitive perspective of an empathic extraterrestrial.
The night before the turn of the millennium, a tour bus bound for a Louisiana casino is suddenly beamed inside a spaceship hovering high above the Earth’s surface. As its twelve passengers emerge nervously from the vehicle, they come face-to-face with the being that has brought them aboard, a sixteen-fingered zoot-suited alien named Desi. Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, Desi will seek their help as he readies himself for the final phase of the mysterious mission he has traveled across the galaxies to fulfill.
For decades, Desi has patiently studied the curious primary species of our planet, absorbing human culture from afar and occasionally bringing a chosen few aboard his ship to read their thoughts and experience their emotions with his telepathic powers. Over time, he has come to love Earth’s confusing, fascinating, and frustrating inhabitantsand even taken a human wife, a gregarious former hairdresser from Alabama named Edna Bradshaw.
Now, to complete his mission, Desi must position his ship in full and irrefutable view of the people of Earth and descend to the planet’s surface at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. As the appointed hour draws near, Desi empathically bonds with the twelve human passengers on his ship one by one, including the slick African-American Harvard-educated litigator Hudson Smith; Lucky Wynn, a Vietnamese refugee turned gambling addict; and Judith Marie “Citrus” Nash, a teenage runaway from an evangelical Christian household. Together, their thoughts blend with the panorama of voices he has collected from throughout the century, building within him a richer understanding of the essence of humanity that will prepare him for the impending moment when he must reveal himself to the world and brave the consequences unprotected.
A tour de force by one of America’s most acclaimed authors, Mr. Spaceman is a tribute to the power of love and dreams. It is a richly imagined novel that is funny, touching, and unforgettable.