Unidentified Killing Object

Doris Piserchia’s monstrous science fiction novel from 1980 is enjoyable overall, but it’s not without its problems. For one thing, the SFnal details are ridiculously banal—at one point, for example, she writes about visiting a microfiche library. Here and elsewhere, Piserchia’s script is as visionary as an average episode of Little Einsteins

And secondly, there are only two female characters with dialogue in the novel. Both of these ladies are ugly and ill tempered, but mostly they’re wholly gratuitous. I can’t help but think of a quote from Haruki Murakami: “Without women,” he once said, “nothing good happens.” 

The monster, on the other hand, is terrific. Corradado (the titular Fluger) is big—four hundred kilos, five meters long, four thick legs, lithe yellow body, blunt head, numerous teeth, eyes tawny and full of guile. 

He comes to Earth as a stowaway, an illegal refugee from the planet Fluga. Once ensconced in Olympus, the heavenly sky-high metropolis hanging over the Manhattan ghetto, Corradado releases his wrath on the utopian community like a fraggin’ atom bomb. “Hatred was his inspiration and his motive for living,” says Piserchia. Venting his rage upon the enemy, he grows to hate them even more. At times he wonders, “What would it be like to destroy a world?”

The Fluger’s rancor is countered by the hegemonic idiocy of Olympus. Everybody on the city’s governing council is a vainglorious ineffective boob. Happily they all get a dose of messy karma in the end. 

It’s up to a handful of minor characters to stop Corradado’s endless rampage—a “wetback” from Manhattan, a blind security guard, a 72-year-old drug dealer and a hired mercenary from outer space. 

Kam Shar is introduced as a soldier of fortune and a galactic detective who “knows his onions” (that means he’s smart btw). But in reality, he’s just a fiddle-footed professional hit man with questionable motives.  

Initially, Kam Shar is seen as a fiend just like Corradado. “He’s an alien,” explains one character, “what we humans consider a dangerous animal.” But the assassin’s offworld experience and wiliness ultimately prevails—Olympus, the city of heaven, is saved from a monster by a monster. 

[The Fluger / By Doris Piserchia / First Printing: November 1980 / ISBN: 9780879975777]