He Walked Among Us

He Walked Among Us

by Norman Spinrad
4.5 6

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He Walked Among Us by Norman Spinrad

When hack agent Jimmy "Tex" Balaban discovers Ralf on a Borscht Belt stage, his act appears to be a clever joke. Ralf claims to be from the future, shouting foul-mouthed prophecies of where we went wrong. And he delivers a harrowing message.

The world is in chaos. Our biosphere has been devastated, our air is unbreathable and the final stalwarts of mankind have taken refuge in pressurized shopping malls. Humanity clings to the last mediocre vestiges of life on a dead planet that we did not know how to save. But it might not be too late. Has Ralf returned to the past to awaken our consciences? Is he who he says he is or is he insane? And if we have one last chance to save the world, does any of this matter?

Then Dexter D. Lampkin, a fading science fiction writer, and Amanda Robin, a New Age guru-wannabe, magnificently transform Ralf into what the world really needs: a messenger sent from the future to save us from ourselves. Together with Tex they polish Ralf's television persona to captivate America. The problem is that Ralf never goes out of character. He truly believes he is a prophet.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429934978
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 03/30/2010
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 544
File size: 617 KB

About the Author

NORMAN SPINRAD is a science fiction icon and the author of more than twenty novels which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His 1969 novel, Bug Jack Barron, was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards and his short fiction collection, The Star-Spangled Future, was a National Book Award finalist. He has also written screenplays for American television series, including the original Star Trek. He lives in New York.

Norman Spinrad is a science fiction icon and the author of more than twenty novels which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His 1969 novel, Bug Jack Barron, was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards and his short fiction collection, The Star-Spangled Future, was a National Book Award finalist. He has also written screenplays for American television series, including the original Star Trek. He lives in New York.

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He Walked among Us 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DeborahJRoss More than 1 year ago
Can science fiction save a world like ours, torn by violence and on the very brink of ecological disaster? More to the point, can science fiction fans save the world? Norman Spinrad had entirely too much fun answering these questions. The story gimmick goes like this: a middling level theatrical agent stumbles on a relentlessly vitriolic stand-up comic who claims to come from the future, sent back in time to cause us to change our destructive ways before it is too late. The agent enlists a science fiction writer, whose single visionary book still inspires a tiny fan following, and a New Age guru to shape the comic's act. As the comic's success leads him to host a talk show on a tenth-rate network, questions pile upon questions. Is the comic so demented, he never, ever breaks character? Or is he, by some wild chance, telling the truth? If he succeeds, will the paradox of time travel result in his never having appeared? Are science fiction fans, the only people willing to believe in a better future, his only hope? Spinrad's prose is snappy, absorbing, at times poignant or hilarious, usually irreverent, as are his references to iconic figures in science fiction (even himself) and if I did not always agree with his characterizations, I found this an absorbing, thought-provoking read.
Jonathan_Vos_Post More than 1 year ago
Wonderful! The reviewer paulgoatallen hooked me at: "a cynical, wildly divisive writer whose controversial works played a huge role in shaping my life and love of reading." I consider Norman Spinrad cynical in the same way as Jonathan Swift or Mark Twain -- out of idealism and politico-cultural sophistication rather than as a hipster attitude. There are clever lines indeed: "like Obi Wan Kenobi doing Lenny Bruce" is funny in the same way as the line from a recent Big Bang Theory: "Look, a Spock doll with Mr.T's head. I pity the fool who is irrational." The reviewer is right: Spinrad (former President of Science Fiction Writers of America) and Harlan Ellison and others have skewered the dark side of Fandom, but out of tough love for the reader, and in recognition of the glory of great writers who DO change the world. Bravo!
The_Alternative More than 1 year ago
"The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in." -Robert A. Heinlein Imagine for a moment that the future existence of the planet balanced on your ability to travel back in time and explain the costs and concepts of the depletion of the ozone layer to a subsistence farmer in rural Mesopotamia. Could you do it? Enter Ralf, stand-up comic from about as far up the time-line as you can get. And he comes bearing terrifying news. The future planet is in disarray, biodiversity is as extinct as the carrier pigeon, the air is thick and un-breathable, almost unusable without heavy filtration scrubbers and to make matters worse, the last generations of humankind have taken refuge in pressurized shopping mall domes. Humanity clings to the last remnants of life on a scourged planet that could not be saved. Now take an aging Science Fiction writer named Dexter D. Lampkins who is a flawed but intelligent individual (and Spinrad's pseudo- literary double) with designs of writing the next great social Science Fiction Transformation of mankind, mingle with Amanda Robins, a New Age Wunderkinds seeking total Zen spiritualism, and mix in a whole lot of Ralf "the comic from the future." Blend them all together on the same late-night television show and what do you get? Well, Monkey-Men, let's just say that you may want to read this one yourself to discover all the gory details. Ralf's message is simple and crude. Start cleaning up the environment right now or the future world is going to suffer. Quit mucking up Mother Habitat so the deprived people of the future can take a break from living in constant fear of complete extinction. Whether by accident or design Spinrad does reveal a plethora of Science Fiction Convention lore, anecdotes, behavior, and attitudes. And surprise, the Sci-Fi geeks are no less real than you or I. For some reason the Cons were the most enjoyable scenes in the book for me. Though Spinrad served up many unflattering and sometimes harsh depictions of Science Fiction conventioneers his descriptions lent realism to the story that may have otherwise been lost. Perhaps I felt so close to those scenes because, like Lampkin, I too identify with the weird and geeky, slightly askew, adoring, star-struck fans. I'm one of them! Spinrad's prose and dialogue is superb, humorous, enticing, and real and scans with perfect pace. If there is any real flaw with the story it is with the character known as Loxy Foxy and her strange companion the "machine-rat- from-the-depths-of-the -subway. Not so much the content itself but how long and drawn out it became in the middle of the book. It seemed like we revisited the same scenes over and over again which cluttered up the story line and served no real purpose. I suspect the novel would have stood well on its own in the absence of those characters. [I'm still unsure of what the confrontation between Loxy, the rat, and Ralf meant! Perhaps someone would care to enlighten me?] Much like James Cameron's "Avatar" Spinrad's "He Walked Among Us" is social commentary with a message concerning the current state of our eroding world and until we can, as Heinlein eschewed, figure out a way to distribute our eggs more evenly someone up the stream of time is going to suffer. We need to learn to sustain what we have and become more pro-environmenta
harstan More than 1 year ago
After watching stand-up comic Ralf perform, sleazy agent Jimmy "Texas" Balaban believes the man has the potential to be a messianic superstar in spite of Ralf insisting he is from the future in which the world is horrible grim place to live. Jimmy hires science fiction writer turning hack Dexter Lambkin and New Age wannabe guru Amanda Robin to make it happen. Amanda buys into Ralf's spontaneous rap without challenging him; on the other hand cynical Dexter is shocked that he too is being mesmerized by Ralf. However, Ralf's message of a world dying unless we change today is overwhelming the comedian who wants to vanish like he did once before. This is an easy read, but those readers who enjoy something satirically different will appreciate He Walked Among Us; as Norman Spinrad lampoons capitalist preachers in mega-churches, media, DC and Wall Street, etc. while the world is in crisis. Character driven fans will be reminded of the movie Network as the author also ridicules his fan base for being overly zealous over the wrong segue. With a strong cast including Jimmy Durante's Schnozzola, this convoluted tale will have the audience ponder what is important in life. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm always getting up here and urging you to buy this book, or to go see that movie. Buy a DVD or try a new author. I do it because I'm passionate about this stuff. And I swear to you that, regardless of whether you end up agreeing with me, I am always 100% honest about them. Coming out on March 30th is what I consider to be the book of the year. It's He Walked Among Us, by Norman Spinrad. Maybe you've read some Spinrad. Some pieces here and there. Or maybe you've been trying to make the time to read Bug Jack Barron for decades now. Or maybe you've read some of his books. My own personal favorites are Bug Jack Barron, The Iron Dream, Pictures at 11, Little Heroes, The Mind Game. My previous favorite was probably Norman's mainstream novel of Hollywood, Passing Through the Flame. My favorite now is He Walked Among Us. Spinrad had trouble getting this book published and it boggles my mind. Here is not only one of the finest science fiction writers that ever published, but one of the most important writers of the modern age. I'm not kidding. He Walked Among Us was previously published in a typically overpriced and poorly manufactured POD edition in 2004. Norman Spinrad having to put his work out in what is barely a notch above self publishing. It's criminal. Why did he have such a difficult time getting He Walked Among Us published? For one thing, Spinrad has never been afraid to bite the hand that feeds him. He has been an acerbic critic of organized science fiction fandom for a long time. He paints the community in a harsh light in He Walked Among Us. I have the experience to tell you that his unflattering depictions of SF conventioneers is pretty damned accurate. Also, Spinrad's career has been hard to classify in any one particular genre. He's known as a science fiction writer and many of his book fall solidly in that realm. Russian Spring, Songs From the Stars, The Void Captain's Tale, Greenhouse Summer, for examples. He has also written books that made him a popular figure in the counterculture, like The Children of Hamelin and Passing Through the Flame. There are stories that seem pulled direct from current events, such as The Mind Game and Pictures at 11. Spinrad has even done historical fiction: Mexica and The Druid King. So what, exactly, is He Walked Among Us? Well, that's a hard one. In a way it's science fiction. It's also an acidly satiric satire of show business. The novel is screamingly funny at times. There are New Age aspects to He Walked Among Us. It's philosophical. It might deal with Quantum Physics, but I'm not exactly sure. And it also has some hardcore scenes that might make Edward Lee wince. Jimmy Balaban is an aging, seedy, third rate show biz agent. He meets a dubious comedian named Ralf who claims to be from the future. He's here to save us from ourselves. It's an odd act, but Jimmy is a pro and the nose knows. Maybe there is a little bit of money to be made from this strange act. He takes Ralf on as a client and hires a male science fiction writer and a female New Age guru to turn Ralf into the cash cow that he always wanted. Astonishingly, it works. The question remains: Who, or what, is Ralf? Spinrad has called He Walked Among Us his magnum opus and I definitely agree. He Walked Among Us, however, is a revelation.