First, I gotta say that The Ultra Thin Man needed a much better editor. There were far too many typos and jarring disconnects:
"On the facing page was a photo of five scientists: two humans, a Helk, and a Memor." (See, I require that my science fiction authors be able to count to at least five. Bare minimum.)
"It can't have been an antimatter weapon, the amount of antimatter needed has never been created. Also, the rays from the antimatter weapon that I just established doesn't exist are going to kill all the living things still on the planet." (o_O)
After 120 pages of discussing First-, Second-, and Third-Clan Helks (varieties of aliens), I suddenly encountered some Second-CLASS Helks. Oops. And there were plenty of other examples.
Then there were the logic gaps and motive failures. Why are the bad guys constantly capturing people, detailing their evil master plans, and then leaving them alive to escape and save the day? "Bwahahaha! Now that you know everything, I think I'll kill you later." How do you disappear several tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens and no one in eight worlds seems to wonder where they are? Why are there no rescue missions to a dying world when it's only six hours away by press shuttle?? Ye gods, you could drive a truck through some of the plot holes.
So why three stars? Swenson excels at setting a hook. Probably three chapters out of four ended with a cliffhanger so good that I couldn't stop reading. That's it. Even when I was rolling my eyes I had a hard time putting it down. I don't have much respect for The Ultra Thin Man, but I did have fun reading it.
I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be amusing but it's an utter failure in the funny department:
Superhero Girl rescues a cat by pulling a tree out of the ground a la Mr. Incredible. She then pets the cat. Ha.
She spends several panels learning to knit, then says "Crap I did it wrong again." *cough*
She tells a criminal to put himself in jail and he does...
I don't think I'm the target audience. I guess it's for little kids, or maybe people who like Peanuts.
Vol 2 zips through the entirety of the presidential race, occasionally flashing some insightful commentary on the process of campaigning but never pausing to breathe. It's a highlight reel, and it could have been so much more.
Meanwhile, Professor Kidd continues to wrestle with his hallucinations and eventually does in fact uncover their source (this is the only plot thread that generates any closure). He notes afterward, "Part of me misses the mystery." Perhaps that's the author's way of telling the reader to embrace Saucer Country's mysteries because he sure as hell won't be getting any resolution.
He dekes again by taking what bodes to be a pulpy crapfest of a concept--flying saucers--and somehow crafting from it an intelligent, thoughtful exploration of UFO mythology combined with a fairly shrewd study of an unlikely candidate's run for the presidency.
The main character is a divorced Hispanic woman, the governor of New Mexico, and a very improbably presidential candidate. She's also an alien abductee. She's forced to walk a particularly wobbly tightrope: using the power of her unique position to investigate what happened to her, running the brutal campaign gauntlet, and preventing the public from learning that the potential next chief executive sort-of-maybe believes in little gray men from outer space. Not to mix my metaphors, but Cornell keeps all three balls in the air with wonderful deftness.
Having read this right on the heels of the execrable Demon Knights, my expectations were very low and Saucer Country turned out to be a wonderful surprise. I keep thinking it must be a different Paul Cornell, but I've checked three times and Goodreads keeps insisting it's the same guy.