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They Walked As Men is another of Clifford.D.Simak's more eccentric novels that features, amongst other things, aliens that come in the form of bowling balls with plans to purchase the Earth; a talking dog (which is a recurring theme as fans of his novel, City, will recall) and a sole newspaper reporter who alone realises what is happening and tries to prevent it.
Parker Graves is ever so slightly inebriated when he comes home to discover a barely disguised bear-trap (no pun intended) waiting for him on the doorstep of his apartment. When he fails to fall into this booby-trap, he is then stunned to witness it transmogrify into a spherical shaped ball that then rolls off into the night!
The next day, he is sent to cover the story of a local superstore and family-run institution that has been bought out by a mystery buyer. But soon Parker discovers that this is not the only local business being bought and, in fact, domestic homes are being bought up by the bucketload too, leaving potentially thousands of Americans homless as demand for housing exceeds supply! Sensing he is onto something big, Parker begins to investigate but as he discovers the truth, who will belive him? Especially when his most reliable (and only) witness is a dog that can talk?
Simak is a fine writer though fans and critics alike often lament the fact that although his books are of a consistently high standard, he never wrote anything that could be considered as a single truly classic sci-fi novel. They Walked As Men is, I believe, amongst the greatest of his novels that he ever wrote however and incorporates many of the themes and ideas the writer would become reknown for!
With it's satirical, and often subtle, poke at Capitilist Western society mixed together with Simak's favourite subject matter, first contact with an alien race far different in any way to our own, this is amongst my favourites of all of his novels that I own. And I own many of his novels, most now sadly out of print!
With only two main characters, the plot moves at a steady and uncomplicated pace that, whilst very much of the time of which it was written, still manages to remain ageless and undated. Many of the ideas and concepts developed here are as relevant now as they were then and many of todays modern sci-fi writers could learn a lot through studying some of Simak's work!
If you have never read one of his books before, here is a great place to start! Truly you are not a fan of the genre until you have read something of Simak! And you could do a helluva lot worse than picking this up from Amazon marketplace or Ebay!!!