The Alien Way – Gordon R Dickson

It can be difficult reading old SF because not only do you have to achieve the usual suspension of disbelief required for reading it, but you have to suspend disbelief that arises from the science and mores of the time in which it was written. Here we have the old attitude to women, the pipe-smoking hero, wire telephones and other electronics you can immediately visualize as consisting of wires, transistors and capacitors, while research is conducted with books and paperwork. Contrasted with that is a technology that can link a human mind to an alien one light years distant, and it’s jarring. Where Dickson did well here is in visualizing the difference between the ways the aliens and the humans think. But even this was, unfortunately, buried in the New Wave ‘soft science’ psychobabble that was fashionable in SF of the time. Annoying too were the aliens themselves. They were bears and, despite their different society and ways of thinking, that jarred too. However, I did enjoy this because it was well written and engaging. Also, like other SF books written many years ago, it does give one an insight into the mores of that time, and the science, to contrast with how things are now and shine a light on how our world had changed.

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