Terence Shannon,
What Happened to the Indians
(self-published, 2000)

What Happened to the Indians is a modern day sci-fi thriller. Terence Shannon has penned a short (250 pages), yet gripping tale of suspense about what might happen to Earth when aliens create a base located in an uninhabited area of New Mexico.

Aliens first began showing up in the late '40s, shortly after humans began using atomic weapons. Coincidence? For decades, their limited presence has truly been known only by a select few, although suspected by many. More recently, the aliens have shot down several U.S. jet fighters as well as taken a commercial 747. After this show of force, they let the U.S. government know that they intend to take a small patch of land for the purpose of harvesting magnetic waves.

As the story unfolds, we see the government divide in to two factions. One side claims that it is time to let the American people as well as the world know about contact with the aliens, especially now that civilians have been involved. It might be possible to hide the truth about losing some military planes, but not a plane full of everyday people. We should allow the aliens to have their base since the people of Earth cannot hope to overcome the alien's superior technology. Perhaps, in time, we can learn some of their secrets. And, perhaps, we can live in peace.

The more aggressive side points out the similarities of this situation to that of Europeans coming to the Americas. The Indians greatly outnumbered the technologically superior white men. Had the natives joined together to fight the invader, many would have died, but perhaps, just perhaps, the Europeans might have decided the New World wasn't worth the effort. By not working as one, the Indians still lost most of their population and land. If doing nothing about the aliens has the potential of leading the people of Earth to a similar fate, then there is no choice but to show these new invaders that we will fight for what is ours.

The book raises many interesting questions. Why did the aliens come here? Was it really to harvest magnetic waves? What does that mean anyway? Are they, perhaps, really looking to colonize and simply using the harvest story as a cover? Does Earth possess some mineral or resource not available in other parts of the galaxy? Maybe the aliens are here because they are interested in the human genetic make-up? Are they a dying race or from a dying planet? What about the fact that they showed up shortly after humanity demonstrated its nuclear capability? Perhaps the aliens are concerned about our destructive nature. Or maybe the initial atomic blasts in the '40s acted as a beacon, letting these invaders know we existed in the first place.

Perhaps more important than all these questions is just what are we going to do about it? Will humans fight or will we go the way of the Indians? The book is written in such a way that it is difficult at times to put down as you want to know what happens next. The story, in its entirety, is certainly not headed to become a classic in my opinion. But it is a fun read. And since it is fairly short, it is also a quick read. It might be perfect for lazy weekend or trip.

Terence, an Ohio resident, can write some pretty decent action scenes. His dialogue is fast-paced and, for the most part, holds your attention. Where he leaves holes in What Happened to the Indians is that the story is not complete. I was left with many questions at the end. What happened to the people on the 747? We get a short glimpse of their captivity, but was that how they spent the rest of their days? We can only speculate as to why the fighter pilots were killed while the civilians were left alive. I was also left wanting to know more about the aliens. Did Terence lack the imagination to flesh them out more, or did he intentionally leave them mysterious? In my final analysis, I would say the book is good, but it isn't great.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 15 February 2002



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