I'm looking for the name of a novel. I listened to it in audio book form on cassette tapes in the early 2000s. This will be tough because I'm lacking a lot of details.

The basics are that an alien lands on Earth. He is alone - a single traveler. He meets a male human friend soon after landing and these two are the main characters. A major issue is that the alien learns about gin and loves it (possibly becoming an alcoholic). The alien's love for gin is something I'm 100% sure of, because as a kid I didn't know what gin was and had to learn to understand the novel.

In order to "prove" that he is an alien, the main character brings some kind of plans or schematics with him for "futuristic" inventions. Near the end of the novel we learn that these plans helped humans create things like color TV, and instant coffee - and I believe other inventions that never actually came to be in real life.

Considering the future predictions of color TV, the original novel might be fairly old.


1 Answer 1


The Man Who Fell to Earth (1963) by Walter Tevis

Thomas Jerome Newton is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth seeking to construct a spaceship to ferry others from his home planet, Anthea, to Earth. Anthea is experiencing a terrible drought after many nuclear wars, and the population has dwindled to less than 300. Their own starships are unusable for lack of fuel and 500 years of neglect. The Antheans have no water, an abundance of food that is slowly dwindling, and feeble solar power. Like all Antheans, Newton is super-intelligent, but he has been selected for this mission because he has the physical strength necessary to function in Earth's hotter climate and higher gravity.

Arriving at Earth in a lifeboat, Newton first lands in the state of Kentucky. He quickly becomes familiar with the environment and forms a plan. Using advanced technology from his home planet, Newton patents many inventions, and amasses incredible wealth as the head of a technology-based conglomerate. He plans to use this wealth to construct space vehicles for the rest of the Anthean population.

Along the way he meets Betty Jo, who falls in love with him. He does not return these feelings, but takes her and his curious fuel-technician Nathan Bryce as his friends, while he runs his company in the shadows. Betty Jo introduces Newton to many Earth customs, such as church, fashion, and alcohol. However, his appetite for alcohol soon leads to problems, as he begins to experience intense emotions unfamiliar to Antheans.

Wikipedia, The Man Who Fell to Earth (novel)

It was made into a 1976 film of the same name where the alcohol he likes is gin too.

Using the alias 'Mr. Sussex', Newton travels to New Mexico. He checks into a local hotel where he meets Mary-Lou (Candy Clark) a maid who helps him when he becomes sick from a fast elevator ride. She becomes his constant companion and lover. She brings him a TV set and influences him to drink alcoholic beverages, partially gin. Eventually, Newton watches many television sets at once having become addicted and begins to drink gin incessantly. Still missing his family, he initiates a space program with all the money he has made in order to return to his home planet and to bring water to help his wife and children.

It was made into an audio book in 1990 and narrated by George Guidall. You can see that on audiobooks.co.uk.

Thomas Newton is an extraterrestrial, one of only 300 left on his home planet. Using his superior intelligence and skills, Newton amasses a small fortune and a business empire, but soon must battle unexpected foes: the CIA, alcoholism, loneliness, himself. An utterly absorbing psychological study of one man's struggle to survive on the 20th-century Earth.

  • Amazing. Thank you! I'm going to read it again. This lines up so well with other little memories I had but wasn't sure enough to write in the question (in case I was wrong)
    – bkanuka
    Aug 28, 2019 at 12:57

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