The Lamp Post Motel
by Joe Gold
Review by Carolyn Frank
Dailey Swan Publishing PB ISBN/ITEM#: 0977367681
Date: August 2006 / Show Official Info /
Elmo Skinner, a nerdy solitary man, owns and manages the Lamp Post Motel, a low-rent structure located adjacent to the Tucson air force base. Noticeable mainly for a magnificent Victorian style lamp post outside the front, the motel caters to bottom-of-the-line travelers, air force and other local types stopping by for quickies, and a handful of longterm losers. Having lost the few people he once loved, Elmo has taken refuge behind a set of computer eyes that monitor the goings on in the motel. Focusing on those rooms where the sexual antics are potentially the most intriguing, Elmo has made a relatively mindless life out of watching and taping and capturing statistics.
Out in the Mexican desert on a quiet clear night, Thea Nikolas spots something just barely visible at the edge of the infrared spectrum, and ends up getting badly attacked by two passing-by Mexicans. Loretta Lipps, a hooker who lives at the Lamp Post Motel finds Thea. Loretta brings her back to recover physically, but Thea is far too broken mentally for this to occur.
The something that Thea almost spotted is a space/time ship, bringing two graduate students from Saturn's University of the Rings 2,000 years in the future here to conduct an anthropological field study. Xaq and Yot are not the best and the brightest, and did not do the greatest job of preparing themselves for their week on the ancient world. But they are adaptable and follow the first person they see, Thea, back to the Lamp Post Motel.
These aliens are the epitome of the worst breed of graduate students anywhere, self-centered, heedless of the cultural mindsets of others, thoughtlessly cruel in small matters but occasionally capable of acts of compassion. Making them aliens from the future is primarily done to provide them with some unearthly skills and technological toys for advancing the plot – and to limit them to impacting only a small bit of our planet for a short period of time. However the aliens' impact on the two broken people, Elmo and Thea, may end up saving them.
It may be cold outside here, but the scorching heat of a Tucson summer keeps this story hurdling along to a rather surprising, but certainly in line with the underlying premises, ending. Well written, with believable characters and credible aliens/alien technology, this book is science fiction for those who dislike endless space battles and prefer a deftly written novel about internal human conflicts and their resolutions.