Um, Aliens

Tales of the Pandemic

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
135 Pages
Reviewed on 08/09/2021
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Author Biography

In this tale, an extraterrestrial species travels across the galaxy to invade the earth for our resources. Before they take that ominous step, they send a scout to observe humans in a big box store in the United States. Then the coronavirus pandemic hits, and people reveal their true natures, which threatens to change everything.

I'm an American student. Much like the scout, I found myself working in retail during the pandemic. I witnessed the worst behavior we’ve all heard about, from hoarding toilet paper to rage fits over masks, and came away with a darker picture of humanity.

This tale is a satire based on my experiences with the American public.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Sarah Westmoreland for Readers' Favorite

Um, Aliens is a work of satirical fiction by author Tarze Thomas. Anyone who has worked retail knows how terrible the human race can be. Soon Bello, an insect-like alien from a distant galaxy, will discover the same truth. Bello’s people are struggling: they need sugar to survive. On their homeworld, sugar is found in deep mines, but now all of the mines have been bled dry. Bello’s people travel the galaxy in search of new homes with fresh supplies of sugar to exploit. Usually, these homes are already populated, but that generally works out in favor of Bello’s people as they enslave the natives and use them to produce the needed sugar. But will that work with the human race? That’s exactly what Bello is here to figure out, and the answer may surprise him.

Um, Aliens by Tarze Thomas is a satire novella based on the author’s own experience with the American public during the Coronavirus pandemic. As a retail worker myself, I found the depictions of the customers (especially the horrible ones) to be painfully accurate and truly hilarious. Thomas fully captures the day-to-day experiences of a retail worker, especially how the chaos grew insurmountably at the height of the pandemic. From customers laughing at regulations, refusing to follow them, and becoming downright violent, Thomas shows exactly how the everyday American has responded to this pandemic, and how it felt to work a retail job during that time. Um, Aliens is a lighthearted read and masterfully written. I’m eager to see the next work from Tarze Thomas!

Francis Mont

Um, Aliens by Tarze Thomas is a very unusual novella because it reads like a journal, documenting the experience of the author in an American big-box store during the pandemic. Everything in the narrative rings true, based on TV reports about irrational and nasty behavior of some of the public and the author doesn’t mince words. He describes the horrible attitude of some of the customers toward the retail workers, who work extremely hard to provide essential services for minimum wage, under irrational managers, and with practically no protection. The plot revolves around a spy from an alien, bug-like species that considers invading Earth and enslaving the planet for our resources. Before doing this, they send a spy, disguised as a human, to work as a store cashier and assess the likely outcome of the proposed invasion. Does Angel’s experience among the humans encourage her species to go through with their plans? The conclusion might surprise you unless you have been observing humanity with an open mind. The story is a merciless mirror for humanity to look into and see our true nature.

Tarze Thomas does not have any illusions about our species. Beyond his experience in the retail industry, he is aware of the terrible danger our species faces with climate change, pollution, the pandemic, and nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. He makes it clear that the reader also has to face these dangers and draw the necessary conclusions. His writing is clear and easy to follow, the characters are vividly described and the dialog sounds unpleasantly familiar. The often flippant description of disturbing human attitudes and the matter-of-fact commentary is a very powerful tool to make the reader aware of the absurdity, unfairness, and downright dangerous attitudes that have become all too visible during the pandemic, endangering everyone else’s health and lives. If you need a confirmation of your own feelings about humanity at its worst, read Um, Aliens by Tarze Thomas, written by someone who was actually there, day in, day out in the middle of it.

Astrid Iustulin

Based on author Tarze Thomas's personal experiences in retail, Um, Aliens is a hilarious satirical novella about human behavior during the pandemic. The story is told from the perspective of an alien, Bello, who is sent to our planet to verify if invading Earth is a good idea. For the alien species to which Bello belongs, the food sources of Earth (and sugar in particular) are very inviting. Will humans become docile slaves, or will they be out of control? To observe humanity closely, Bello begins to work in retail. The clients are an original gallery of human types to discover, but will they be enough to call off the invasion? It is up to you and Bello to find out.

Um, Aliens is an entertaining book, one of the best satires on the pandemic I have found. However, after I read it, I asked myself a question. Can we really make that impression on an alien? I fear so because I witnessed behavior similar to that of Bello's clients myself. We should start acting differently, and Um, Aliens is a book that highlights how we could make a start. My favorite parts included scenes that author Tarze Thomas dedicated to outlining the complicated relationship Bello has with clients and colleagues, especially with the memorable meddler Lucy. In addition to this, I immensely enjoyed the writings on the customers' sensational T-shirts, which are among the most comical things in the novella: I was waiting for them every time! I recommend Um, Aliens to anyone seeking an enjoyable read that helps us reflect on who we are.