First published in 1963, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Walter Tevis' richly imagined story of an alien in human society, is widely considered one of the best science fiction novels of the 20th century. The novel's protagonist is Thomas Jerome Newton, an extraterrestrial from the planet Anthea who lands his space craft in an abandoned eastern Kentucky coalfield. He has spent years preparing for his journey to Earth. But neither his meticulous study of human beings nor his superior technical knowledge can save him from loneliness or from the callous indifference of the people he encounters. Near extinction and running out of natural resources, the Antheans have used their entire fuel supply for Newton's voyage. His mission is to build a ship large enough to rescue all 300 remaining Antheans from their dying planet. Newton soon discovers that humans-who seem to him like "very alert and resourceful chimpanzees"-are much more complex and dangerous than he imagined. And he also discovers that he himself is not immune from human frailties, including vanity, carelessness, and alcoholism. Walter Tevis, who died in 1984 at the age of 56, was born in San Francisco, but attended school in Lexington and Richmond. He earned a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky and then taught high school and college English. His other novels include The Hustler, The Color of Money, The Queen's Gambit, and Mockingbird.
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