The Man Who Fell To Earth by Walter Tevis

The Man Who Fell To Earth
By Walter Tevis
Publisher: RosettaBooks
Kindle Edition
Pages: 196
Genre: Science Fiction


The basis for a feature film starring David Bowie in his first major role, The Man Who Fell to Earth tells the story of Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien disguised as a human who comes to Earth on a mission to save his people. Devastated by nuclear war, his home planet, Anthea, is no longer habitable. Newton lands in Kentucky and starts patenting Anthean technology, amassing the fortune he needs to build a spaceship that will bring the last 300 Anthean survivors to Earth.

But instead of the help he seeks, he finds only self-destruction, sinking into alcoholism, abandoning his spaceship, and can save neither his people nor himself. This is the poignant story of a man fallen to addiction, materialism, and loneliness.


Finding the words to articulate my feelings for this poignant story is no easy task. It is one I have chosen to minimize as I feel this a novel best left interpreted by the individual reader. There is much to be gained during the small time spent with this classic novel.

Initially I did not fully discern just how much was happening within this misleadingly simple story of an alien from the planet  Anthea sent to Earth in hopes of securing a means to save his own race.

The plot is very basic. Our protagonist and the message he carries is anything but.

The Man Who Fell To Earth is not your typical speculative fiction. You will not find yourself whisked away to futuristic planets among incredible alien races. The only spaceship in this story no longer functions. There are no magical worlds and fantastical events occurring. No, this is not about any of those things. This is a journey of exploration that will take you much further than that. And that journey begins and ends with one man..

Meet T.J. Newton (Tommy). He has been sent to Earth in hopes of saving his race from their dying planet. His plan is simple. Patent Anthean technology (while disguised as a human) and acquire enough money to build a spaceship to bring the Antheans to Earth. However, all does not go exactly as Tommy plans and he ends up acquiring something much larger than any spaceship. Humanity.

“He was human; but not, properly, a man. Also, manlike, he was susceptible to love, to fear, to intense physical pain and to self-pity.”

The Man Who Fell To Earth is a quiet, elegant and lonely look at the deepest of  “human” characteristics through the eyes of an alien. Through Tommy’s time with man we observe life and the emotions and traits that encompass our very existence.  We are given a new perspective  and challenged to observe ourselves outwardly.

Tommy’s time away from Anthea is filled with pain and isolation. He lives alone among man in fear of discovery and even worse, failing. But his time on Earth results in more than he anticipates as he begins to assess his own feelings and the life surrounding him. He quickly sees the suffering and self-destructive behavior of mankind.

This is a slow, saddening excursion into the depths of humanity and existence that remains very relative to this day. The Man Who Fell To Earth, while short in length delivers a surprisingly impactful story full of underlying depth and significance.

My hope is to follow-up with a small review/comparison of the film starring David Bowie in the near future. Imagining Bowie as Tommy was an effortless process as the descriptions fit so fell. I immediately found myself ordering a collector’s edition that has been released just this year. Here is a look at the trailer for the remastered film from last year for those who might be curious.

As this review is about a week late, I now find I can’t help but recommend The Man Who Fell To Earth to all. It still lingers with me as I continue to attempt to fully interpret and dissect all that has been beautifully packed into this classic and deceptively simplistic story. This would be a wonderful selection for a discussion or group reading.

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42 thoughts on “The Man Who Fell To Earth by Walter Tevis

  1. I’m so happy to read your review! This has been a book on my to read list for a very long time. I always loved the idea of a non human being sucked into over indulgence of humans. I remember in the movie it struck me when he becomes obsessed with television and ends up watching several tvs at once.
    I’d love to watch the movie with you too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I only started listening to David Bowie after a friend introduced me to his music a couple of years back, but I became an instant fan! I’ve heard of the movie, but have yet to watch it (perhaps something I should do on my days off this week!) I didn’t realize it was based on a book, though. Great review! You seem to have knack of convincing me to read books I wouldn’t normally read 😛 Definitely need to check this one out!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was reading this thinking “I’m sure I’ve seen a film with this name” so yeah, honestly I am losing my memory much earlier than I thought I would! This sounds really interesting, slightly different to what I would normally read but I might have to give it a go.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I saw the film many years ago and seem to remember enjoying it, though as a huge Bowie fan that’s not surprising! I’ve never read the book though – but now I really want to! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the film…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that the journey isn’t about going to the stars, discovering new species and all, but the journey of someone, right here on Earth. Observing mankind this way is very clever, I’m absolutely curious about this book! Fab review my Twin Pea!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lov this review so much… I don’t know under what rock I’ve been under for not having heard about the book or film until now but I sure as hell am going to want to read this! And watch the movie if I can find it somewhere of course!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found both through Amazon, not sure if that is currently an option for you? The book is slow and it took a while to hit me. But once I realized what the author had done, truly impressed. Will be watching film soon with friend. Looking forward to it. I hope you will review if you read so we can compare thoughts! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful review, Danielle! This sounds brilliant. And… somehow… this whole alien to arrives to earth reminded me of Superman’s story. Glad to hear how impressed you were by it though. Definitely adding this to my TBR now. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a great review! I love it when books still linger with me that long after I’ve finished them. The premise of this book is fascinating. I’ll definitely add it to my TBR for when I have a break between YA ARCs. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This sounds like a really deep read. Which I like! I have to be in a certain type of mood for stories like this, but it’s definitely going on the TBR for when that time comes! Nice review! Thanks, Danielle. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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