Robert Zubrin is mainly known as a space development promoter, not a novelist, but at Windycon in 2003, where he was a guest (because of his let's-go-to-Mars work, not his fiction) he was pushing this book. As in, when you walked by his table in the dealer's room, he jumped out and delivered a pushy but highly amusing sales pitch for the book. So entertained was I by the sales pitch that I bought the book, even though I didn't really expect very much from the book itself. And it languished on my to-be-read shelf for a long time. But yesterday, after finishing The Firebird's Vengeance, I wanted something light, and something that was science fiction rather than fantasy, so I gave this book a shot.
This book is really political satire; the alien visitors and their technology are more excuse than real speculation. And because it is heavy-handed satire, it follows some real and disturbing trends in today's news to an absurd extent, but given that this is the point, the absurdity works, even though it would hopelessly overtax the suspension of disbelief in a novel that presented itself as real speculation. So the story actually works, frankly better than I expected, and he actually manages to make some points about the human condition as well as about the present day political landscape.
It's a quick, light read (hey, I finished it in a day, and I'm a painfully slow reader). It would seriously offend some people with its main political points, but probably nobody that reads my blog. The way it turns the mess in the Mideast on its head might actually shock a few people into better thinking on the subject. While it's certainly not an enduring masterpiece, it is worth reading (which I must confess is more than I expected). 8 out of 10.