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In Shooting Star, Joe R. Lansdale serves us a novella perfectly timed for release in the Halloween season. He writes a love letter to the low budget, alien invasion films of the Eisenhower, wasting little time getting to the creatures and the creepy. It also replicates the tone of the short fiction that inspired tose films.

The setting appears to be set at the turn of the last century, due to some details that include a Teddy Roosevelt reference. John Shaw, an itinerant laborer and man of adventure heads out west by train with his pal Dudley for a camping excursion. On the train he meets, a dapper man in a bowler, the porter (who may be an older version of Joe Lansdale's take on Nat Love he featured in Paradise Sky and some short works), and Hilly a pretty blonde he begins to flirt with. Soon their conversation is interrupted when a flying saucer crashes into the train, upending it off the rails. Few passengers survive except them, however the aliens are intact and they ain't E.T. What ensues is Jack and company on the run through the wilderness from the plant-like creatures, trying to both survive and get word to the rest of the world.

Lansdale creates this throwback tale with a craftsman's approach. He parses down his often baroque voice for a crisper and eerier quality. He plays more on what's not seen with the reader realizing it's too late when it is.

Shooting Star is a fun one-sitting Fall read. While retaining his own style and approach, Joe Lansdale harkens back to saucer ships and evil aliens. You almost picture it in black and white.


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