Looking for a science fiction book about an alien science editor for Time Magazine
February 7, 2008 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a Science Fiction book about an alien/cyborg surgically altered to appear human that is sent to New York City to make sure a planned visit by his people goes ok, because they're sick and tired of all the NASA probes. To help him blend in, his crampt spaceship is disguised to look like a rooftop building air conditioner and his superiors have already got him a job as an assistant science editor for Time Magazine.

Once he's settled in, the aliens beam a simple five line billboard code message that is picked up by SETI. Later in the book, SETI's computer, who likes to be called Rufus, manages to "run away" by sending orders to have it disassembled and shipped to the alien's apartment. Unfortunately, the other science editor had smoked some pot and mis-interpeted the message "We come in peace" as "We come kill you earthling" and recommended a stark black and white cover with a cyanide "scratch and sniff" dot on the front so Times subscribers wouldn't suffer from the impending alien invasion and put both his and the alien's name down. Instead, the chief editor sends back a memo stating "1. You're both crazy. 2. You're both fired." Would really like to know what the title of the book was.
posted by Kioki-Silver to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I'm not certain, but it seems like the time period was late 60's, early 70's.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 4:35 PM on February 7, 2008

Unless you're the person who asked this question, you might find additional helpful details there. (No answer, alas.)
posted by languagehat at 5:16 PM on February 7, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you whoever edited my posting! They're looking for the same book alright.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 6:25 PM on February 7, 2008

It's the hilarious, delicious, exquisite Frederic Brown's Martians Go Home!
posted by bru at 7:17 PM on February 7, 2008

I remember this book, but vaguely from when I was about 10. The point that stands out is that the protagonist's spaceship is disguised as one of those city rooftop AC blocks-- there can't be too many SF books with that premise. I don't, unfortunately, remember the name. Some things I do remember:

The protagonist is able to record conversations internally, and at one point after he reveals himself as an alien a girl comments, "I wondered why you would say things like 'Begin Reel 2' in the middle of conversations, I thought you were just really organized."

He asks why human males have nipples. His shoot lasers or something.

I believe the book's subtitle was something on the lines of "Funny Goings On, On and Off The Planet".

I would estimate the date of publication around 1980, but could be wrong.
posted by justkevin at 9:01 PM on February 7, 2008

Best answer: Sorry: I don't know what memory demon seized me last night*, but I woke up with the right title this morning:
All right, Everybody Off The Planet! by Bob Ottum. Also.
(First link has a customer review, second one has a cover image and more copies.)

*In fact, I know: I read this book for the first time 30 years ago in French.

The publishing date in English is 1973. And I stand by "hilarious, delicious, exquisite".
posted by bru at 3:24 AM on February 8, 2008

Response by poster: That's it! Thank you Bru! Thanks everyone who looked at this!
posted by Kioki-Silver at 7:48 PM on February 8, 2008

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