UFO, the mere mention of this acronym (unidentified flying object) conjures images of flying saucers and beings, ranging from short to tall, who are slender, with large dark eyes and green or gray colored skin. Sometimes they wear shiny silver jumpsuits!
Since 1947, when debris from the crash of an unidentified object was spread over several acres of a local ranch and collected by authorities from Roswell Army Air Field, Roswell, New Mexico has become nearly synonymous with UFOs, big-eyed aliens, and tall tales about encounters and abductions by both. And in her new novel, The Road to Roswell, Hugo Grandmaster Connie Willis tells a story that includes all of these things and more!
Francie Driscoll is making a trip she never imagined she’d be making: she is going to Roswell, New Mexico during its annual “UFO Festival.” She doesn’t want to go. But Serena, her college roommate, has asked Francie to be her Maid of Honor, again, and Francie feels honor-bound to show up and talk Serena out of marrying the latest in a long list of bad husband choices. Again! This time, Serena’s fiancé is named Russell and he is a UFOlogist. When Francie arrives in Roswell, Serena informs her that the wedding will take place at the UFO Museum, at Russell’s insistence, and that Francie will be wearing a neon-green dress. She takes all of this in as additional ammunition for her arguments against Serena marrying Russell. After Francie tries on her Maid of Honor dress, Serena asks Francie to get something out of her car. Francie reluctantly agrees and when she opens the car, she is greeted by an alien. It is unlike anything Francie has ever seen. It overpowers her, pulls her into the car, and begins to gesticulate wildly that it wants her to drive. Yes, Francie has been abducted from Serena’s alien themed wedding at the UFO Museum, wearing a neon-green dress, by an alien. . .
In The Road to Roswell, award winning author Connie Willis puts her own unique spin on the alien abduction story. This is not a gritty alien abduction story where abductees are terrorized, probed, and traumatized. Instead, in Willis’ more than capable hands, it becomes a bit of a road-trip adventure with a growing cast (Francie isn’t the only person abducted by “Indy” as the alien comes to be known) of quirky and interesting characters who grow to become a type of found family. And, just like any family, there are plenty of snarky comments, sly and insightful observations, and maybe, just maybe a bit of romance.
The Road to Roswell is filled with Willis’ humor along with keen observations and a challenging of genre norms. Willis also highlights the importance of relationships, new or established, and our responsibilities to help each other when we can.
Read an interview with the author here.