The Man Who Fell to Earth, by Walter Tevis – 1963, 1986 [Unknown Artist]; 1990 [Tim O’Brien]

He was sick; sick from the long,
dangerous trip he had taken,
sick from all the medicine – the pills,
the inoculations, the inhaled gases – sick from worry,
the anticipation of crisis,
and terribly sick from the awful burden of his own weight. 
He had known for years that when the time came,
when he would finally land and begin to effect that complex,
long-prepared plan, he would feel something like this. 
This place, however much he had studied it,
however much he had rehearsed his part in it,
was so incredibly alien – the feeling,
now that he could feel – the feeling was overpowering. 
He lay down in the grass and became very sick.

He was not a man; yet he was very much like a man. 
He was six and a half feet tall,
and some men are even taller that that;
his hair was as white as that of an albino,
yet his face was a light tan color;
and his eyes a pale blue. 
His frame was improbably slight,
his features delicate, his fingers long,
thin,
and the skin almost translucent, hairless. 
There was an elfin quality to his face,
a fine boyish look to the wide, intelligent eyes,
and the white,
curly hair now grew a little over his ears. 
He seemed quite young.

Yet he did have eyelashes,
eyebrows,
opposed thumbs,
binocular vision,
and a thousand of the physiological features of a normal human. 
He was incapable of warts;
but stomach ulcers, measles and dental caries could affect him. 
He was human; but not, properly, a man. 
Also, man like, he was susceptible to love,
to fear,
to intense physical pain and to self-pity.

____________________

(1990 Book-of-the-Month Club hardcover edition, art by Tim O’Brien)

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