While aliens have often been a good excuse for books and movies in which to blow stuff up, occasionally they are actually friendly and trying to look out for us. The results are often amusing. These are three books about extraterrestrials and the hilarity that ensues with first contact.
Ralph loves Andy Warhol and American pop culture. And earthlings in general, for that matter. So, in Christopher Steinsvold's The Book of Ralph, he lands a blimp in the shape of a can of Campbell's soup on the White House lawn and proceeds to charm the national security advisor, White House staff, and a disgruntled ex-member of NASA pulled in because, well, it's not immediately obvious. Another alien race has noticed our small blue dot and unlike Ralph, they do not love us at all. Their plan is to get themselves worshipped as gods and let their adherents commit genocide against each other and anyone else who does not believe. Ralph has just a few days to save our world, and it's going to take all of his charm and wit to implement his admittedly desperate plan. This is a funny, thoughtful book that asks, what would we do if we were visited by a representative of an ethically superior race?
In Barry B. Longyear's The Homecoming, the Nitolan's star fleet has returned to their own planet after 70 million star cycles only to find it infested with the evolutionary descendants of an edible tree squirrel. These descendants are humans, and the Nitolans consider using their cauterizing power to wipe the slate clean. On closer inspection, the Nitolans decide to bide their time, as at their current rate, earthlings will pretty much do their work for them in another 200 years. However, both peoples have been changed by the encounter. Humans may have finally wised up about the environment, and the Nitolans have discovered humor from the astronaut-turned-adman sent to negotiate with them. This is another amusing tale of social science fiction involving first contact.
The Humans by Matt Haig is a sweet story about what makes us human. The Vonnadorians a galaxy away are alarmed to learn that a curmudgeonly human professor has made a breakthrough discovery concerning the distribution of prime numbers.This piece of knowledge would open the door to a raft of discoveries that the Vonnadorians have determined we are not psychologically prepared to handle. They go for a subtle approach: replace the math professor with one of their own and have him destroy the proof and anyone who might have learned of it. The nameless protagonist chosen for this job quickly becomes a better person than the man he is impersonating, and begins to question his mission. The real delights of this book are the fish-out-of-water observations and the alien's discovery of Emily Dickinson, Australian wine, and dogs.
Got more funny books about well-meaning extraterrestrials? Let us know in the comments.