Martians Go Home by Fredric Brown. E. P. Dutton (1955), 174 pp.
Luke Devereaux, author of science fiction novels, has isolated himself in a shack near Indio in the hope of clearing his mind of writer’s block. He almost gets an idea for something about Martians when a visitor from that planet arrives at his door. He’s a little green man with strangely proportioned features, an ability to zip around using cerebral teleportation, and a semi-corporeality that allows him to be heard but not touched. Luke soon discovers that his visitor has such contempt for humans that he won’t even deign to explain why he’s come. And he’s not alone. A billion other Martians have shown up elsewhere on the planet. They don’t physically threaten humans, but they do cause endless annoyance and confusion. Luke thinks he might be imagining all of this and heads to Los Angeles for psychiatric help.
Brown is poking fun at the idea, illustrated in H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, that beings from outer space would develop advanced technology without experiencing concomitant changes in consciousness. Brown’s Martians don’t take human civilization seriously enough to go to war with it. They behave outrageously and ridicule cherished values such as courtesy, empathy, individuality, and brotherhood. Brown’s omniscient narrator shows them aggravating various people in various places, but he primarily focuses on Luke and his problems, financial as well as psychological. Readers may not be entirely satisfied with the book’s conclusion, but they probably will enjoy the journey that takes them there.