Comedy is hard – and SF comedy is even harder, since you can guarantee that any space-bound laughfest will automatically be compared to classics like Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy . Now, popular comedian Mitch Benn has made his first foray into the literary world with a genuine work of science fiction, but while there are understandable echoes of Adams, Terra is an altogether sweeter proposition.
Equally reminiscent of the works of Roald Dahl and Terry Pratchett, it’s the story of an unconventional alien abduction, as an otherworldly visitor to Earth accidentally ends up looking after a human baby he thinks has been abandoned. Naming the little girl Terra, he takes her back to his home planet and raises her as his own – but it isn’t until years later, when the 12-year-old Terra embarks on her first day of school, that she finally realises exactly how different she is…
A playful and accessible all-ages take on some classic SF tropes, Terra is engagingly written and a lot of fun, although anyone hoping for wall-to-wall gags should temper their expectations. This satirical fable is more wryly amusing than laugh-out-loud funny, but has real strength in its story, especially the touchingly portrayed relationship between Terra and her alien foster father. Benn layers some powerful emotions into what could have been lightweight. A charming tale of childhood, parenting, and finding your place in the world.
Saxon Bullock https://twitter.com/saxonb
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