Author ~ Hollis Shiloh
Publisher ~ Spare Words Press
Published ~ 15th October 2015
Genre ~ Science Fiction M/M Romance
I am not from this world. I don't know where I was from originally. When our pod landed, I was the only one to survive, and my memory was damaged.
That day, I lost the man I think I must have loved.
I don't age, and I'm far too strong compared to these humans around me, but even so, I fear their finding out the truth about me. I try to protect the ones I can, but I am weak when it comes to saving them — or even just not hurting them by my ignorance and strength.
And now for the first time in decades, I've met a man like myself from another world — the world where we both hatched. I wonder what he can tell me about myself . . . and what I dare ask without giving away the fact that I remember nothing?
“All the Things I’ve Lost” is a lovely small book. It’s either a long novella or a short book (121 pages), but it’s packed with meaning, allegory and love.
I seem to be running into a lot of alien gay fiction lately, and I know why. When I was just a boy and first aware of my “errant” sexuality, I invented my own personal Alien. He was a beautiful young man with long, flowing blond hair who radiated absolute acceptance and validation. Though just a fantasy, he allowed me to believe that our world could be a better place, that tolerance, respect and love really would, someday, triumph over stupidity and bigotry.
That’s exactly what Ms. Shiloh is telling us in “All the Things I’ve Lost”. Her main character is an alien, an alien who crash-landed on Earth more than 80 years ago. Lee never seems to age, is remarkably strong, impervious to disease, and seems to care passionately about the humans he lives with, interacts with, and saves from mayhem and murder on the streets.
The problem is that he can’t remember. Apparently, as a result of the crash (which only he survived), he has forgotten where he came from, his language, his past, even his name. He’s spent the last 80 years constructing a human life, a human persona, someone who fits into human society, but without the hatred, intolerance and anger of too many of the people of the Earth. Over those 80 years, he has also saved a lot of money – his needs are minimal – and used it to relieve the suffering of many of the people around him.
Then, one day, everything changes. He comes home to find a total stranger, a beautiful young man, has taken up residence in his apartment. Dion was like him, someone from his planet, someone who might be able to fill in the blanks. He is immediately physically attracted to the elegant man, and more important, he has been so lonely, for so long. He had stopped trying to be with human men when he accidentally killed the first man he tried to be intimate with. He didn’t understand his own strength, at first, nor the delicacy of the human body, and his passion was so intense, so physical, that it crushed this innocent young man. He held him in his arms as he died. Lee never forgave himself, and for 80 years, he never touched another person intimately, out of guilt and fear.
Now here’s this gorgeous man, just as strong as he is, someone upon whom he can unleash his pent-up passion without fear of damaging or killing him. They make love, non-stop, for more than a week. They can’t stop touching each other. But, in fact, he doesn’t know Dion and, after a while, wonders what he’s doing, giving over his life to this man he knows nothing about, a perfect stranger.
As it turns out, they were “paired” for life by virtue of those first days together. Lee is not happy. Somehow, he seems to have been tricked into gaining a husband, tricked into making a lifelong commitment, one he never intended. As the years move along (just the blink of an eye for men who live for centuries), Lee finds himself drifting away from Dion, trapped by this kind, but needy man he never chose. It breaks Dion’s heart.
With the assistance of crystals that came to earth in Dion’s pod, Dion helps him locate debris from the site of Lee’s crash, in the hope of finding any scrap that might tell Lee a little more about who he was, where he came from, and whom he loved. It turns out that Lee was pretty well known on his home planet, where he was a member of a religion with radical beliefs – that all living beings are equally worthy, including men who love men, a novel concept on his planet. It takes so long for his people to reproduce, and reproduction is so rare, that anyone who refuses even the attempt, by pairing with a person of the same sex, is deemed inferior and unacceptable. As Mark Zubro recently wrote in his own alien epic, “Stupidity appears to be universal across the galaxies”.
Ms. Shiloh’s main character obviously agrees, and though he came to earth seeking freedom, tolerance and kindness, Earth turns out not to be the paradise he hoped it might be. But still, he makes it his business to practice his beliefs, dedicating his life to helping others anonymously. Lee is often convinced he’s failed, but Dion reminds him that he has changed people’s lives, for the better, in countless ways over the years. Though changing the world might not be possible, trying counts, and that’s a big part of Ms. Shiloh’s message. These are both good men, and though they won’t be able to eradicate hatred and suffering on their own, they can make a dent in it, which is all that can be asked of all good people, both human and alien.
A lot of the book revolves around the aliens’ love story. Their relationship is on-and-off-again as Lee sometimes feels trapped by Dion, at other times grateful for his concern and love. It’s only when they travel home again that Lee realizes that they have grown deeply in love, are truly paired, and that he has not been the best husband while he grieved for a past he couldn’t remember.
What Ms. Shiloh makes abundantly clear, without preaching or political rants, is that love is love, has nothing to do with gender, and that its core is kindness, concern, caring, consoling and celebrating, whether here on Earth or in some alien galaxy. And she does it beautifully, through the attitudes, dialogue and thoughts of her two main characters, through their native desire to help and to prevent pain and suffering, and through their compulsion to bring love, safety, security and laughter to children.
At a time of right-wing religious hate-mongers, a U. S. Presidential primary where all the candidates vie to out-hate each other, in order to pander to the worst elements of the electorate, in which religious groups in the Middle East imprison, hang and throw gays off the roofs of tall buildings, it is important to remember and treasure the author’s profound and beautiful message.
This is a small book with a big theme, as only Hollis Shiloh can write it. She is an extraordinary writer, whose heart bleeds at injustice and exalts at love. She is a writer much to be admired, as is “All the Things I’ve Missed”. Don’t miss it. I gladly give it my highest and most heartfelt recommendation.