Alien Taste (Ukiah Oregon, Book 1)
With the popularity of TV shows about cops and lawyers, it’s no wonder that science fiction has jumped on the bandwagon. Author Wen Spencer has published a story that combines the realism of police drama with some of sf’s staple elements, in Alien Taste.
Ukiah Oregon tracks down missing people for a private investigator. His results are unparalleled, but there’s one thing he can’t locate: his own past. Found abandoned and living with a wolf pack, Ukiah’s memories before his rescue remain out of reach. But his past is about to catch up with him.
When Ukiah and his partner, Max, get involved in a case that ends with a crazed young girl’s death, they find themselves entangled in the shadowy world of the Pack.
A secretive and dangerous gang, the Pack has more in common with Ukiah than he realizes. They, too, have heightened senses and perfect memories. And they also have a completely unique genetic pattern that makes them other than human. Ukiah’s search for his past now has a direction, and he risks his life to search out the Pack and discern their secrets. But others out there also are seeking answers: the police, the FBI, and another gang more dangerous than the Pack.
Spencer’s novel feels a lot like The X-Files, with lots of running around in the forest, lots of venturing into dark warehouses, and some down-time to show Ukiah interacting with his family. Perhaps it’s this sense of familiarity that boosts this story, because it’s an enjoyable read.
One slightly annoying element, though, is the author’s assertion that because Ukiah is tall, dark, handsome and — most important — quiet, ladies will throw themselves at him without a second thought. Perhaps this is meant to convey Ukiah’s “animal magnetism,” but it just doesn’t ring true, and may be a bit off-putting for women.
Nonetheless, Alien Taste gets a passing grade. It’s a good blend of classic science fiction and NYPD Blue.
This review appeared in the Davis Enterprise on August 16, 2001.