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Richard Pryor
Project Earth: Vice or Virtue

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

The Orthians (more commonly called the "Grays") are a highly intelligent alien species. They work hard to ensure their designs, ships, and crews are always fit for interstellar travel. Only two days ago, the High Council of Sentients directed Commander Onhu Elau, the Grays' most senior leader, to reassess Earth's primary inhabitants: --man. Per their order, he and his crew will again travel 11 light-years to an obscure planet circling a G-type main-sequence star (G2V) deep within the Milky Way Galaxy: --Earth.

The Commander and his crew last visited Earth's solar system 203 earth years ago. Although he is fully prepared, he can only do so by evading both the Insectoids of Iberium and the Reptilians of Sheron in getting there. He knows how important it is to give Earth's human inhabitants an objective assessment, but he is unsure about how much (or how little) human development may have occurred since. Indeed, his years of command experience taught him to be very wary and to not underestimate any species. He has seen many and has personally witnessed nature's genius, adaptability and aggression.

Upon the ship's arrival, the Gray Commander is truly impressed by how much human development and advancement has occurred. His advance probe and its 2,000 advance nanobots record an enormous amount of information on mankind and his achievements, including: (1) developing proven vaccines (1796); (2) proposing a theory of evolution (1859); 3) creating the automobile (1885); (4) mastering flight (1903); (5) developing theories of relativity and quantum mechanics (1905); (6) creating digital photography images (1957); (7) traveling to their moon (1969); (8) creating the internet and electronic connection devices (1969); (9) creating electronic writing (1971); (10) creating adaptive digital music (1973). Other examples were present as well.

Plot/Idea: 6 out of 10
Originality: 6 out of 10
Prose: 5 out of 10
Character/Execution: 4 out of 10
Overall: 5.25 out of 10


Plot/Idea: The plot idea of an alien race evaluating humanity for the possibility of an intergalactic civilization is a solid, if slightly overdone, idea, though the book as written reads more like a collection of short stories with a light framing device than a cohesive narrative. Pryor never quite clarifies why these aliens care particularly about the Christian concept of the seven deadly sins.

Prose: Pryor's prose is often engaging, but is prone to overexplaining or adding details that don't support the story's advancement. 

Originality: The combination of closely intermingled scientific and theological concepts—such as the sins of Wrath and Gluttony—gives the novel an intriguing edge it would not otherwise have.

Character Development/Execution: Despite the rich potential of the premise--an alien species objectively evaluating all of humanity--the scope of that assessment is rather limited. Human subjects don't display significant diversity, while the alien species also comes across as somewhat overly human in their language and expression. 

Date Submitted: August 24, 2022