Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Illegal Alien” as Want to Read:
Illegal Alien
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Illegal Alien

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  913 ratings  ·  62 reviews
When a disabled spaceship enters Earth's atmosphere, seven members of the advanced Tosok race are welcomed by the world. Then a popular scientist is murdered, and all evidence points to one of the Tosoks. Now, an alien is tried in a court of law-and there may be far more at stake than accounting for one human life.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 27th 2011 by Ace (first published December 1997)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Illegal Alien, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Illegal Alien

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,456)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ben Babcock
In Illegal Alien, Robert J. Sawyer manages to convince me that aliens from Alpha Centauri have come to Earth and need our help repairing their spaceship. He fails to convince me that the California District Attorney could try one of those aliens for first degree murder.

Sawyer recognizes the improbability of such an event, because he doesn't even try to justify it. The president mumbles something about the federal government not being able to interfere with the case because the state has jurisdic
My thoughts :
This novel is clearly sci-fi : first contact with aliens, can you get something more obviously sci-fi? And yet, it is more an exploration (and a critique) of the US justice system. The outsider points of view helps, because the lawyer has to explain everything to his alien client, Hask. It shows the unfair aspects of the justice system, even if, in the end, Sawyer's message is not entirely pessimistic : we finally learn the truth about Clete's death. I really liked this aspect of th
Mankind makes first contact with an alien civilization when a space ship is stranded in our solar system. The Tosoks come from Alpha Centauri, which is about four light-years away. One of the eight astronauts was killed in a tragic accident when he tried to repair the damage the ship sustained crossing the Kuiper Belt, an asteroid belt on the outer rim of the solar system. The other seven Tosoks are received on Earth with open arms. It looks like they have to spend two years on our planet until ...more
I really liked “Illegal Alien.” It was written at the time of the O.J. Simpson murder trial and Sawyer cannot resist mentioning it throughout the book. This is fine, as it allows the author some flexibility of plot and pacing: an old lawyer who has won his share of cases, Mr. Dale Rice, a black man who knew Martin Luther King, Jr. and at 70+ years young gets the chance of a century – to defend an alien accused of the murder of Calhoun, a PBS news/astronomer who was the first to step aboard an al ...more
Utterly unremarkable, but not bad enough to warrant 2 stars. This is one of those books that sells itself on a premise but does very little with it.

The author seems to think that characterization consists solely of giving a precise physical description of a character, then giving said character the same standardized dialogue as the rest. Indeed, the physical descriptions are often comically out of place:

Wills stood five-eight and weighed maybe a hundred and fifty-five pounds. Frank noticed he w

This book was shades of Orson Scott Card, just sans the thinly veiled preachy undertone. So the better parts of OSC's work.

This was primarily mystery/legal drama with SciFi flavour. As seems to be common thus far, Sawyer is an incurable idealist. Though since I was raised with one of my parents being a Trekkie, there's definitely an appeal here.
Michael Hirsch
I just finished reading "Illegal Alien" by Robert J. Sawyer. It is another first contact story. The aliens come to earth needing help to fix their spacecraft. They are willing to trade technical knowledge for the help. Everything is going well until a human scientist is brutally murdered and am alien is the prime suspect.

I enjoyed reading this book, but found it a little dissatisfying. As with some other books by Sawyer, he relied a bit too much on having some rule or law of physics, or somethin
Ero indeciso se dare tre stelle oppure quattro.
Alla fine ho optato per tre, poichè questo romanzo è gradevole, ma presenta i soliti difetti di tutti gli altri di Sawyer: personaggi che sembrano principali che spariscono nel nulla, colpi di scena forzati, finale assurdo.
Il primo difetto trova esempio nel personaggio di Montgomery Ajax: pagine sprecate a descrivere lui e le sue ambizioni, e poi PUF! sparito nel nulla.
Per il secondo difetto occorre leggere il romanzo.
L'ultimo difetto lo avevo già r
Dodie Reed
"When a disabled spaceship enters the Earth's atmosphere, fear is quickly replaced with awe. Seven members of the incredibly advanced Tosok race are welcomed by the world within open arms and the people of Earth put their best face forward, Then a popular scientist is found murdered. All evidence points to one of the Tosoks, For the first time, an alien is tried before humans in a court of law. And in the unprecedented trial, where two cultures clash there may be far more at stake than accountin ...more
this review :
I wouldn't give it two stars as this reviewer did but I pretty much agree.

The main thing I remember about this book is that Sawyer introduces truly alien aliens then as he usually does makes them pretty much human. Good concept: the aliens believe that because their god is Omniscient and omnipotent , anything they do must be OK because otherwise wouldn't god have stopped them? I like the reasoning but as a matter of practicality how can a soc
Brian MacPherson
This was a very different book to go through, a genre that is rarely touched on: scifi legal drama. As such, it may not be everyone's cup of tea...

Still, his writing style is engaging, his material (scientific, as well as legal) seems as well researched as with any of his books, and his storyline creates a positive direction that gives you some nice variety from the post-apocalypses, cyberpunks, and other cliches of the genre. While it's difficult to believe anyone would attempt to prosecute a v
I think I'm about ready to give up on Sawyer, although its possible that Ive just chosen poorly. If John Grisham tried to write a science fiction novel this is probably what you would get. While the idea of an alien courtroom drama is somewhat intriguing the novel spends most of its time trying to be a metaphor for the OJ Simpson Trials. Which would be okay if the author didn't feel a need to have every character say "Hey, this reminds me of the Simpson trials". There are some interesting ideas ...more
I didn't finish the whole book. I read the beginning, through the murder and up to the trial, then skipped to the ending. The others in my book group liked it well enough. I went into it with prior dislike of Sawyer's work (Rollover and Hominids). I couldn't suspend my disbelief that on a first contact we would arrest an alien, instead of sequestering then away from civilians until we knew that they understood our laws. And although there were aggressively ethnic characters, the default was stil ...more
Mick Fraser
It's a 3.75 but I'll give it a four here. I've always enjoyed Rob's sci-fi because of his clean writing style; the science is not too heavy to understand. This particular story premise was fun. The aliens described were easily imagined.
Matteo Pellegrini

Quando un'astronave entra nell'atmosfera terrestre alla paura iniziale si sostituisce subito la meraviglia. Con il primo contatto fra terrestri e alieni, sette membri della razza dei Tosok, di incredibile intelligenza, vengono accolti a braccia aperte dal mondo intero. Ma un noto scienziato umano in contatto con il gruppo viene improvvisamente trovato morto, mutilato da un'arma misteriosa, e tutte le prove sembrano condannare uno di loro. Cercando di evitare un incidente planetario, gli Stati Un

Nonostante la venatura "gialla" (non sono particolarmente un amante del genere, e nemmeno delle storie di avvocati/tribunali) è un libro veramente avvincente e ben scritto (ma in fondo, è un libro di Sawyer XD)
I didn't get very far before I decided I was done with this book. It seemed to be the author examining the U.S. legal system in the wake of the O.J. Simpson trial. But there are good ways to do that and bad ways to do that. This was a bad way. I found the characters flat and stereotypical. The long exposition about the legal system were boring. And I'm sure that I would have found more to criticize, but I never finished it. It's a shame, really. It could have been an interesting subject, especia ...more
Sean Randall
I thought this was a short story, and was pleasantly surprised to find a full-blown novel waiting for me instead. Courtroom drama has never quite been my thing, but this was sedate and quiet enough that I enjoyed it, despite the overwhelmingly stentorian black message and the by now standard promulgation of canadian superiority.I thought this was a short story, and was pleasantly surprised to find a full-blown novel waiting for me instead. Courtroom drama has never quite been my thing, but this ...more
Adella Toulon-foerster
I continued reading the book because I could see the promise. Really great premise and characters but the law? Not all great - How did that alien get arrested. I wasn't convinced. Eh... good effort though.
Sci-Fi–Courtroom-Drama?? Yes!!

Yet again Sawyer hits ANOTHER home run!

What a great story! I just loved it – glued to the developments and did not want to put it down.

I expected nothing less from this author; terrific!
I had jury duty the week I started illegal alien. I had no idea that it would be a sf courtroom drama. Pretty cool though.
Jenny T
A First Contact situation between Earth and the alien Tosoks turns sour when one of the Tosoks is charged with murder and tried in a human court of law. What follows is an interesting courtroom drama and some pretty good science fiction.

This book was originally published in the '90s, and it shows, with MANY references to the O.J. Simpson trial. And some of the emphasis on racial issues seemed a bit out of place. But the book was entertaining, and the aliens well-developed. A light, quick read, a
Sawyer wins again
On a little bit of a Robert Sawyer binge and re-read this over the past week. Nice, tightly written courtroom drama with well constructed aliens involved. Would have loved a bit more character development (I don't think we hear that one of the main character's has a daughter until more than 3/4 through the book) but the "whodunnit" aspect keeps the story moving at a nice pace and makes for a compelling read.
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Sawyer has a knack for building believable and fun sci-fi worlds and he certainly knows how to tell a story that fueled by human emotion, but here I was left a little underwhelmed. He executes the idea fine, but I wish there was more of an emotional investment one way or the other for the reader. I mostly felt like I was watching court TV for the bulk of the book and I wasn't really invested in either side.
Un gran bel romanzo, dove niente è lasciato al caso e dove non tutto sembra come appare.
Una nave aliena, con buona parte dell'equipaggio in ibernazione, giunge in orbita terrestre oggi. Gli alieni sono ben descritti, appaiono amichevoli, poi, per caso, si scopre che uno di loro, il più amichevole, ha commesso un omicidio. Ha ucciso un uomo, e lo ha sezionato. Il perché lo ha fatto è la vera sorpresa.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 48 49 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Worlds (Worlds, #1)
  • Blind Lake
  • The Wall Around Eden
  • Assemblers of Infinity
  • Nothing Human
  • Highway of Eternity
  • The Preserving Machine
  • Triptych
  • A Million Open Doors (Giraut #1)
  • The Martian Race
  • The Proteus Operation
  • Up the Walls of the World
  • Ancient Shores
  • Coyote (Coyote Trilogy, #1)
  • The Alien Years
  • On My Way to Paradise
  • Teranesia
  • Farewell to the Master
Robert J. Sawyer is one of Canada's best known and most successful science fiction writers. He is the only Canadian (and one of only 7 writers in the world) to have won all three of the top international awards for science fiction: the 1995 Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment, the 2003 Hugo Award for Hominids, and the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan.
Robert Sawyer grew up in
More about Robert J. Sawyer...
Flashforward Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1) Calculating God WWW: Wake (WWW, #1) Humans (Neanderthal Parallax, #2)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »