The Fluger

by Doris Piserchia
Reviewed date: 2018 Aug 4
Rating: 1
159 pages
cover art

This is a monster book, kind of like how Godzilla is a monster movie.

The monster isn't Godzilla, it's a Fluger from the planet Fluga. His name is Corradado, not that anybody calls him that, because he doesn't speak. (We get to hear what he's thinking, though.) He's young, just a kid really, and accidentally caught a ride to Earth on a supply rocket. Ooops. Now he's smashing up the city of Olympus for fun. He particularly enjoys killing, decapitating, and dismembering the little creatures that live in the city. He calls them shriekers because of the noise they make. I'm not sure if Corradado ever realizes they shriek because he is killing them. Not that he would care. Humans to him are like bugs are to us. We don't get upset about killing an ant or two or a thousand.

Olympus is a sky metropolis built on the island of Manhattan.

Olympus was built a kilometer high in some places. From a distance it looked like a series of 0's stuck up in the sky upon two pillars, somewhat like a surrealistic rainbow. There were ten 0's in all, well-balanced with modern and clean apartments within their walls, besides all the other things of which a city normally boasted, even speedy transportation at all times for the squealing little inhabitants.

All the other cities of Earth are similar. There are people who live outside, in the shadows of the city, waiting for their turn to immigrate. My thought is that enormous farms, mines, and other industry would have to exist to support these cities, but it appears the cities are largely self-sufficient. They trade with each other, but not with the outside. Those living outside are squatters, packed into slums and shanty-towns, subsisting on garbage and roasted rats. I'm not sure I buy that. There's no way the cities could be self-sufficient. Anyway, this is a monster book, not a book about agriculture and industry.

The Fluger rampages through Olympus. It's gory.

[Corradado's] yellow eyes opened to stare at the corpse submerged in the reddening fluid [of the swimming pool], and for a few moments he was interested as the woman's open eyes looked straight up into his own. His muscles even tensed as he waited for her to exhibit some other sign of life. Then he relaxed. She might stare for eternity but never again would she make a voluntary mortal move.

The sun burned his back. For a moment he dozed. ...

The partially eaten corpse in the pool yielded to gravity, rolled and turned so that the wound became visible where pelvis and legs had been consumed. Red seeped and spread below the Fluger like thick dye.

It's like this all the way through. We get graphic descriptions of the dismembering and decapitating and murdering and devouring. It's not the kind of science fiction book I'm used to. It's really more of a monster book in a science fiction setting.

Nothing on Earth can stop the Fluger. His skin deflects bullets. Fire and acid and poison don't faze him. He tunnels through solid rock, concrete, and steel like it's nothing. He rips up army tanks like tissue paper. The mayor of Olympus hires Kam Shar, an alien from Eldoron, to track down and kill the Fluger. For some reason I could never understand, everyone in Olympus is just as scared of this alien mercenary as they are of the Fluger, and the mayor spends the rest of the book trying to fire him. But Kam Shar has been paid in advance, and refuses to leave until the job is done.

Kam Shar is what I call a modalist trinitarian alien. He has three physically separate bodies, but a single consciousness. He can transfer from one body to another at will, but he is only present in one body at a time. One body is humanoid, another is winged man, and the third is a black quadrupedal beast. Cool idea. I enjoyed the part where Kam Shar busts himself out of prison by jumping into another body and rescuing himself.

There's a subplot involving a young boy named Hulian from outside Olympus. Hulian swears revenge on the Fluger after the Fluger destroys the shantytown and murders everyone Hulian knows. Hulian manages to follow the Fluger into Olympus (actually, I think Kam Shar helps him) where he ends up in the care of a blind man named Roxey. Later, Hulian helps Kam Shar track the Fluger.

There are some other subplots. One involving a barber named Quantro, whose shop is a front for pushing drugs. He teaches people some meditation exercises that he claims will allow them to astrally project out of their bodies. In reality, Quantro slips them some fancy designer drugs in a cup of tea, but the drugs are coded not to activate until the person chants the proper meditation phrases. Some technology!

Kam Shar kidnaps Quantro and has him combine the designer drug technology with a little piece of tech that he has: compressed molecules.

You take, say, molecules of hydrogen and oxygen, squeeze them in a pressure unit and then freeze them into an inert state. Conceivably you could carry a swimming pool in a thimble. Use a little heat to release the molecules all at once, or slowly.

Kam Shar's plan is this: inject half a dozen people with compressed molecules, coded to activate when the person experiences the realization that he is about to die. Then put those people in the Fluger's path and bait him into eating at least one of them. Then the compressed molecules will activate and rip the Fluger apart from the inside.

The pedant in me wonders what sort of pressure chamber can compress water molecules so hard it collapses the space between atoms. Isn't that sort of substance called a plasma? And even if you did that and got a chunk of compressed molecules that remained stable at room temperature and pressure, wouldn't it still weigh the same as before being compressed? So how would it work to have a few hundred or a thousand kilograms of compressed molecules injected into your body? This plan would never work.

But never mind. This is a monster book, not a science book for pedants.

Cue more gory carnage. The plan works. Olympus is saved.

I was disappointed that Kam Shar killed the Fluger. It wasn't wrong to do--the monster was killing people by the hundreds and thousands, and causing billions in property damage. The Fluger was an existential threat to all life on Earth. But the Fluger also had a name, Corradado, and he was a child. I'm reminded of how Spock on Star Trek didn't kill the Horta. (See the episode The Devil in the Dark.) He mind-melded with it, communicated with it, and discovered the Horta was not a monster but simply a mother defending her flock. Maybe that wouldn't work with the Fluger, but certainly they could try, right? But this is a monster book, not Star Trek.

Archive | Search