Aliens are here and Jake becomes so obsessed with them that he neglects the human relationships he has.

The aliens are only the backdrop here as we and Jake only get literal glimpses of them (they are described as being transparent and ghostlike). They are mysterious and only a few people seem to be able to communicate with them. Our protagonist Jake manages to ruin his marriage with his obsession with these aliens. He moves to where the aliens have settled down and even meets a new female companion who is also very much into the aliens. But so much as him so he ruins that relationship as well. He manages to get in some sort of contact with the aliens through a woman working as a translator. The aliens never reveal or say anything useful, and the translator tries to connect with Jake instead but he can still only think about the aliens.

The aliens being aliens here doesn’t seem overly important, since they most work as a metaphor as something one can’t have and letting an obsession over something unattainable get in the way of real human connections. I am not really sure there is any deeper moral than that to this story. It is decently well written but somewhat lacking as a science fiction story.

Read in The 1990 Annual World’s Best SF
Originally published in Zenith: The Best in New British Science Fiction
Rating: 2+