The Grays

While Whitley Strieber’s The Grays is a ‘work of fiction’, some aspects of the story are quite decidedly not fiction. This is made quite clear by Strieber in his dedication. He dedicates the novel ‘to those millions of people around the world who, like me, have faced the enigma of the grays … [who] represent a genuine and spectacularly provocative unknown.’ The story is fictitious but ‘the grays’ are not. A group of ‘fictitious’ grays, however, have been set in a story that at some points must be considered as plausible, even probable.

The novel The Grays, however, is the story of the experiences of three grays and their involvement in the lives of a small group of human beings; one in particular, Conner Callaghan.

Conner Callaghan is no ordinary human being, though. The son of Dan and Katelyn Callaghan, both academics, he is a ‘gifted’ child. He is also the by-product of the genetic engineering efforts of the grays, which explains his ‘giftedness’.

The grays are on a mission to save themselves and their race. They’ve lost many things as a race, things that would otherwise make them more ‘human’, shall we say. It is the ability to feel emotions and the ability to be emotional which they’ve lost most of all. They are confronted by this loss as they’ve come in contact with the human race. They want to regain this ability or perish. The emotional nature of humanity has therefore attracted the grays like a moth to a burning flame. And the million plus collective is on its way to Earth.

The storyline is a bit pedestrian, unfortunately. Why would anyone want to save the human race? The human race is, after all, the main cause of global warming and the looming environmental, energy and social crises that will result. Why not let the human race suffer given its short-sightedness and selfishness? Not if the grays get their way.

As farfetched as it may seem, the grays, humanity, and the looming crises are linked. The link, however, is deliberately unclear in the novel. And that’s probably because the link is, after all, in reality, unclear.

Of course, the novel begins by presenting the grays as a wicked, evil race. Abducting humans and doing god-knows-what to them in their saucer-shaped craft doesn’t make the reader feel any pity for them. Their behavior though is part of the reason why the three grays are called the ‘three thieves’, it’s what they do, and what they must do in order to save themselves, their entire race and the human race.

At least one military group is convinced that the grays are pure evil, and must be stopped. Their existence must be kept a secret. This group has been deceived by their own paranoia and ‘cold war’ mentality, of course. But there is another group, within the same military institution, that isn’t convinced the grays are evil at all, and is trying to help them. This group believes that by helping the grays achieve their goal, they will be helping the human race achieve its goal: survive 2012 and the coming crises. The battle begins for control, and it’s going to get very, very nasty.

Why the grays have made contact with and liaise with the U.S. Air Force and the American government is a little unconvincing, in the beginning. Until you realize why and how it eventuated, that is. And then sympathy for the ‘devil’ begins to kick in. It’s a plausible explanation too for what may have happened at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Some of the storyline is drawn from real events, which increases the plausibility factor.

One of the ‘three thieves’ has been a ‘guest’ of the U.S. Air Force since his ‘procurement’ after an incident in which their craft was accidentally brought down by a U.S. military apparatus. There were other craft involved in the incident; all were affected, and all crashed. All the occupants of the crafts, all except ‘Adam’, died. ‘Adam’ was detained by the U.S. Air Force and kept in a secret underground bunker in an unremarkable house in a quiet little mid-western town.

In order to get their ‘brother’ ‘Adam’ back, the other two-thirds of the ‘three thieves’ are willing to negotiate with his ‘handlers’, the U.S. Air Force’s ‘bad guys’, through ‘Adam’. While the ‘three thieves’ don’t always help the U.S. Air Force with everything it wants, the ‘three thieves’ do provide the U.S. military with some pretty impressive technology, or at least provide it with ways to work it out, use it and even make some of it. Conspiracy theorists will love this part.

Communicating with the grays proved difficult initially, since they prefer to communicate telepathically. The grays can hear human thoughts, but humans can’t hear them unless their sensitive enough or the grays allow them to. Natural telepaths had to be found among the human race to begin communicating. However, just two telepaths were known to exist, and one of them has just died from a scratch from ‘Adam’. The other known telepath is the deceased’s daughter. Father and daughter are both officers in the Air Force. Lauren Glass is ordered to take her father’s place. Entering her father’s secret world while disturbing, the relationship she develops with ‘Adam’ more than compensates.

As the time draws near for the ‘three thieves’ to make contact with Conner Callaghan, and awaken him to his true purpose, the reason why he was genetically engineered in the first place, the battle intensifies. The Two and the Three of the ‘three thieves’ want ‘Adam’, the One, back, so they manipulate a fire by the house that holds the One (‘Adam’). Lauren Glass is almost killed in the fire and ‘Adam’ escapes. ‘Adam’ and Lauren have a strong relationship, however, and her role in Conner Callaghan’s future is set though she doesn’t yet know it.

Colonel Wilkes, the officer responsible for ‘Adam’s’ ‘detainment’ and ‘virtual’ interrogation, is infuriated by the unexpected events. His paranoia begins to work overtime and decides Lauren has to die for allowing ‘Adam’ to escape, despite her almost dying. She escapes just as Wilkes prepares to kill her. Wilkes pursues Lauren and drives her right into the hands of Colonel Langford, one of the good guys. The Colonel tells Lauren about Wilkes’ and his plans for the grays. And Lauren tells Langford about ‘Adam’ and the grays interest in a young boy in small town Wilton, Kentucky. Together they work to defeat Wilkes and save the boy.

Conner is of course unaware of his ‘true’ origins. A spectacular visit from the grays one evening doesn’t hurt his curiosity. The visit leaves a lasting impression on him, though. He is totally aware however of his difference; his ‘giftedness’. A difference that is still very obvious even amongst the gifted children in a school for the gifted. His academic parents, who also work at the school, try to help him manage his difference. But it comes at a price: their sanity.

Conner Callaghan is the key to the survival of the ‘three thieves’, and the entire race of grays. He is also the key to the survival of the human race. He is the meat in the proverbial sandwich, as it were. He struggles to come to terms with his ‘destiny’ even after he realizes the grays do exist. Even after he realizes he is of some interest to and ‘special’ in the eyes of the grays. Even after his parents realize, not without almost going mad, their own experience with the grays and their role in ‘producing’ Conner; who eventually decide to go-with-the-flow, even though none of it really makes any sense. Even after the ‘three thieves’ make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure he lives. What will Conner, an eleven-year-old gifted school-boy do go-with-the-flow or run real fast away from the madness?

The Grays is the first instalment in this intriguing and drama filled ‘work of fiction’. What happens to Conner Callaghan and the human race can be read in the forthcoming second instalment, 2012. The Grays, however, is slated to appear as a major motion picture event, so watch for it.

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