“Elvis Found Working as Ski Instructor in Alps” “Family Chat with Santa Claus on Holiday in Caribbean” “Killer Ants on the March from Mexico” and of course: “Astrologists Confirm New Year Alien Apocalypse” But if they were only harmless supermarket tabloid headlines intended for comedic effect all could be forgiven. But the fact people exist with professed knowledge of such events is where the reality of humanity takes over. And for as much as the premise of the Age of Information would seem to dispel such notions, it may only confuse matters further, particularly in the religious context. Reality so diffuse across available media, religion in post-modern life has taken on its own tabloid ambiguity.
John Kessel’s Good News from Outer Space is a novel existing at the intersection of Christian doctrine, the mysteriously unexplained, and the technical and social sides of modern life (at least as it stood in 1989). Bouncing off religious fervor, alien encounters, psychoses, and the media, the novel is a darkly humorous snapshot of that quirky, irrational side of humanity that quests for knowledge about the underlying reality of existence, and in the absence of said knowledge, can substitute the thing lying closest to hand with complete conviction. Witty, coy, and sadly profound, Kessel writes with his finger on the pulse of humanity’s irrational tendencies, as scary as they sometimes are.