My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Don't quote me on this, but I seem to remember reading a little blurb on the dust jacket that said something like, "This book tells the story of how first contact with aliens would really happen." God, I hope not.
A disillusioned aerospace engineer happens upon the design plans for an alien aircraft inside a book he finds at a used book store. He sets about building this thing and, a decade or two later, he is off to unknown islands in the sky. He is accompanied through all this by the book shop's owner, a generally annoying older woman who has a bad habit of relating their crazy experiences to famous books.
She sails through space on a mysterious spaceship designed by aliens and later spends considerable time in their "lairs," yet she can't seem to tear her mind from the pages of "Alice in Wonderland" and the similar. There is nothing inherently wrong with a character occasionally mentioning hallmarks of literature, but Gunn's approach only annoys the reader and disrupts the story's flow.
So, yes, this is some goofy stuff, not recommended to anyone looking for a serious sci-fi experience. At the same time, I can't recommend this to fans of humorous or absurd science fiction, either -- it takes itself far too seriously.
Try as I might, I can only see Gift From the Stars as a poor attempt by James Gunn at recapturing the relative fame and glory attained in the Seventies by The Listeners.
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