By Matt Haig
The story of an alien coming to Earth and casting a cold eye on our dysfunctional civilization has been around forever. In British author Matt Haig’s hands, however, it still seems fresh as ever, and makes for a charming SF romantic comedy and social satire.
When a Cambridge mathematician solves the riddle of the Riemann hypothesis, an envoy from the planet Vonnadoria is sent to nip this bit of scientific evolution in the bud. And that’s “nip” with extreme prejudice. Alas, despite being appalled at our wretched lives and the way we carry on so irrationally, this stranger in a strange land can’t help liking us anyway. He even takes to drinking tea, reading the poetry of Emily Dickinson, and falling in love. Which, in turn, gets him into trouble with head office and leads to lots of soul searching as he tries to come to grips what it is that makes humans behave in the crazy ways that humans do.