For along time I have been confusing two stories. One of which was the short story "Amanda and the Alien" by Robert Silverberg. (A high school girl encounters an alien who feeds on humans and takes their appearances.) The second story was a novel.

I kept thinking the novel, was "Amanda and the Alien", But I recently found out "Amanda and the Alien" is a very short story, so was not the novel I was thinking of.

But it is more or less the same premise. Alien lands on Earth, has trouble and a woman helps him.

The book was a Paperback, probably from the 70s or 80s. I think it also had a few line drawing illustration in it. The cover had an illustration of a man maybe wearing a Victorian style cape (I think the cape was a light color or the lining was a light color), and swinging what looked like a whip, which was curling around in the air like he was getting ready to use it.

The publisher was not one of the big ones at the time, and the cover illustration style I remember reminds me of the old Laser books. But was not a Laser book, as they always had the portrait in the bottom corner on it, and the big white Laser logo, and this did not.

I think one of the illustrations inside was of the whip in close up.

The whip was a weapon. If you pressed a button/turned the handle, it would harden into a sword like weapon. (The whip/sword may have retracted into the handle at another button press)

The woman might have seen or meet the Alien at a coffee type cafe, or the old beatnik type cafe, where artist read their poems, or play their music for the patrons. Believe it was set in a large city, like San Francisco or New York, or similar. Somewhere that had a bit of counterculture type area to support the beatnik cafe.

I remember little of the story, other than he was running from Government agents, and she was helping to hide him, and the people in the cafe were happy to tell agents inquiring about her to get lost, when she asked them to help her avoid them.

I believe it may have been the beginning of a series, (I think it had a bit of a cliff hanger ending, or they were still on the run) but I don't think any other books were ever written.

  • Several of Alastair Reynold's books feature a weapon called a whiphound that behaves as you describe. However none of them are remotely like the plot you describe. Oct 28, 2023 at 17:49
  • @Valorum Yep, There was the Short Story and the movie staring Michael Dorn. But neither is the book I was thinking of.
    – NJohnny
    Oct 29, 2023 at 0:23
  • @JohnRennie No the whiphound seems to act as an independent robot, able to be released and operate on its own. The weapon I mentioned functioned was strictly handheld and operated as a whip or sword. (It might have been able to act like a taser and shock someone when it was a whip, but cant be sure.)
    – NJohnny
    Oct 29, 2023 at 0:28
  • Had a flash that "Alien!" was in the title. Googled but did not find any, BUT did spot the cover in the images list. It was I--Alien by Michael Reaves
    – NJohnny
    Oct 30, 2023 at 4:19

1 Answer 1


While Googling for books with the word Alien! in the title, I saw the cover in the images list.

The book is "I--Alien" by Michael Reaves (1978). Apparently it was his first novel.

I--Alien" by Michael Reaves (1978)

He is wearing a cape as I remembered, but the white that I remembered must be from the portal he came through(?)

It is illustrated which must be the line drawings I remembered.

But I cant find any plot summaries online to additional info.

But this is the book I was trying to recall.

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