[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
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Press Release
For Release Monday, November 10, 1997

A Courtroom Drama with an Extraterrestrial Defendant

New Novel From Award-Winning Author Explores Racism in the Courts

[Illegal Alien] ILLEGAL ALIEN, the ninth novel by acclaimed Toronto writer Robert J. Sawyer, will be a "December" 1997 hardcover release from Ace Books, a division of Penguin Putnam, New York. The book will be in stores across North America on November 10.

Illegal Alien is a courtroom drama with an extraterrestrial defendant. As the only author in history to win both the top American award in science fiction (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award) and top Canadian award in mystery fiction (the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award), Sawyer is uniquely qualified to write this book, which should appeal equally to fans of the science-fiction and mystery genres. It's being touted as "Independence Day meets John Grisham."

Sawyer, 37, is Canada's only native-born full-time science-fiction writer. He's won fourteen other awards for his fiction, including the Seiun, Japan's highest honor in SF; Le Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire, France's highest honor in SF; and three Auroras, Canada's top SF award.

Sawyer has frequently combined mystery and SF before. His first novel, Golden Fleece (Warner, 1990), dealt with a murdering computer. His Nebula Award-winning novel The Terminal Experiment was a murder mystery set in a near-future Toronto. His most-recent previous novel, Frameshift, was also a mystery/SF crossover, dealing in part with the search for Treblinka gas-chamber operator Ivan the Terrible. Meanwhile, Sawyer's short story "You See But You Do Not Observe" dealt with a time-traveling Sherlock Holmes (and was authorized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate).

Illegal Alien is set in 1999. A starship from Alpha Centauri — the nearest star to our sun — arrives at Earth. Aboard are seven aliens who travel the world accompanied by an international entourage of scientists, including Cletus Calhoun, whose down-home charm has made his PBS astronomy series Great Balls of Fire! a big hit. But when Calhoun is brutally murdered, suspicion falls on one of the aliens.

As Sawyer always does, this novel deals metaphorically with large issues, including racism in the courts. The alien is defended by prominent African-American civil-rights attorney Dale B. Rice. The "trial of the Centauri" is even bigger than O. J. Simpson's "trial of the century," and the courtroom pyrotechnics are every bit as riveting.

A signed, numbered, leather-bound limited edition of Illegal Alien has been produced by Connecticut's Easton Press; the bookstore hardcover edition is published by Ace, which also published Sawyer's earlier novels Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, Foreigner, End of an Era, and his Nebula and Hugo Award-nominated bestseller Starplex. His next novel, Factoring Humanity, will be a June 1998 hardcover release.

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