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Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede

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Author: Bradley Denton
Published: 1991
Language: English
Wordcount: 101,000 / 285 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 79.1
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 12,801
Added to site: 2009.08.14 24994
License: by-nc-nd

When televisions worldwide begin broadcasting a nonstop, noninterruptible live performance by Buddy Holly purporting to originate somewhere in the vicinity of Jupiter, Oliver Vale--the apparent object of the broadcasts--finds himself drafted for a mission so secret that even he is not sure of its purpose. (Campbell Award winner, 1992)

Show Excerpt

ill be most pleased as she ships you off to the state hospital at Osawatomie!"

Buddy took a few steps back from the camera and shifted the Strat into playing position. "That's all the sign says, but I'll repeat the address in a while in case nobody's listening right now." He looked up and around, as if watching an airplane cross the sky. "Seems like I'm in a big glass bubble, and I can't tell where the light's coming from. It's a little chilly, and I sure hope I don't have to be here long. In the meantime, here's one for your family audience, Mr. Sullivan." He struck a hard chord and began singing "Oh, Boy!" in a wild shout.

I remote-controlled the Sony into blank-screened silence. Poor Buddy. He had seemed to be surrounded by nothing worse than stars and shadows, but I remembered enough from my Introductory Astronomy course to know better. Ganymede was an immense ice ball strewn with occasional patches of meteoric rock, and its surface was constantly bombarded by vicious streams of protons and

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 4.4 from 14 reviews: *****
Leah A. Zeldes

Bradley Denton's best-known novel likely resonates more with Baby Boomers who than it will with younger readers, but for our generation, the 1991 John W. Campbell Memorial Award winner is a rockin' and rollin' masterpiece.

Oliver Vale, born in 1959 to a teenaged single mother obsessed with Buddy Holly and UFOs, leads a humdrum if stressful life in Topeka, Kansas, until a few years after his increasingly zany mother's death. Everything changes one day in 1989 when all TV stations, everywhere in the world, become preempted by a continuous broadcast depicting the long-dead singer, who claims to be imprisoned in a glass bubble on Ganymede. A sign there reads, "For assistance, contact Oliver Vale, 10146 Southwest 163rd Street, Topeka, Kansas, U.S.A.," Holly says, pleading, "So would someone out there please get in touch with that fellow for me?"

Vale is forced to flee his home, pursued by the law, a renegade federal agent, his psychologist, a cyborg Doberman, a pair of reanimated otherworldly spirits and a populace maddened by the signal blocking their favorite sitcoms. Meanwhile, he recounts growing up amid the music and events of the 1960s and '70s.

This fond and funny romp through the history of rock and roll feels more skin to a Carl Hiaasen novel than typical science fiction hard-sf lovers may find it too lightweight, but if you like the works of writers such as Mel Gilden and Christopher Moore, you'll enjoy this one.

Adam Weekes

Rock and Roll history becomes a religion in this book. A special treatment of a world that obviously meant a great deal to the author. The story is fun, gripping and fast paced. I love this book. I have read it three times since It was randomly given to me in 1994. I would love to see the film version capture the essence that makes this so magical.

Dai Alanye

Droll and offbeat, but pointless. The best I can say is, for those who like this sort of thing, this is probably the sort of thing they'll like.


nothing deep here, but fun. humorous and enough action to keep the story moving. kind of in the vein of hitchhiker's guide. i enjoyed it.


Kept me interested throughout with never a dull moment. The ending was disappointing, the story felt to be building up to something bigger, but still fun and enjoyed it.

Rob Johnstone

I really enjoyed this story. The writing style had me a little worried to start with but as the tale took hold, and the author gained more confidence in the book began to flow more readily. The main character Oliver grew on me, but I would have liked to see some of the other characters develop, such as Gretchen, or Pauls family. I would love to see the author revist this for a rewrite as I think it would be a real benefit. Give it a go.


Great Book!


I loved it, I just wish it had been longer. Had plenty of action and plenty of twists.

Shelby Davis

It's difficult to pick out a particular fault, but this novel just didn't seize my attention as it seems to have done for my fellow reviewers. Perhaps part of my disappoint lies in my (however unfounded) expectation of a Douglas Adams-style laugh-fest, which this isn't--it's a humorous novel, to be sure, but not one that'll have you repeating savory little lines of pithiness to yourself for days afterward. And while allusion is unavoidable in a novel about a cultural icon, it seemed to lean almost entirely on cultural references--a 50s travelogue, as someone below put it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is a bit of a niche thing.


Absolutely marvellous. An ingeniously silly plot involving aliens and Buddy Holly leads the reader deftly through a moving and touching coming-of-age tale about a boy dealing with his mother's insanity. Add to that a sly critique of post-1950s America, and you have a brilliant read.

K. Jones

Highly entertaining. Polished, action-packed, funny, and impossible to put down.


this is one of the best and funniest sci fi books I have read in some time. It is fresh and inventive . It is also a mini travelogue through the 50s and 60s. I cant recommend it enough. Well worth the time to read.

Doug Walker

One of my favorite books of all time...and a bit of a hidden gem...I never thought I would read this book again as it always came up as 'Out of Print' on any search I did for it.

I'm so glad to have the chance to read this again and again.

You're a genius, Mr. Denton, and one hell of a writer.


What a pleasant surprise to find such a delight here. This amazing and funny SF novel is my all-time favorite. Highly recommended! Bradley Denton rocks & rulez!



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While growing up in a military family, R.J. Patterson spent some of his formative years living with his family on the estate of an English baron and baroness. It was there that he developed his passion for good literature. After winning numerous awards for his writing and journalistic work, Patterson left journalism full-time to pursue writing books and now resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and four children. He plans to write many more thrilling novels unless the CIA presses him into service to save the world. As our Author of the Day, Patterson tells us everything about his Brady Hawk Box Set.
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