Alien Cover and Summary

The two lower covers are European translations.

(You might want to check out this fun YouTube interpretation of the book.)

He never speaks. He never makes eye contact. No one has ever

touched him. They say he’s retarded. Autistic. Strange. his name is Smitty, but everone calls him “The Alien,” and Ginny is intrigued. She’s been feeling like an aliend in a strange world since she and her family moved here from the West Coast. Against her first impulse, Ginny vows to make contact with Smitty. To be his friend.

But still waters run deep. And Smitty is like the ocean. Ginny soon finds herself being sucked under – going out too far. But Smitty is the one who could drown. Because the world he[‘s created is safe from love, from pain, from everything. There’s no room for anyone else. At least – till Ginny comes along . . .

Kristen Randle has written a novel about the realities of abuse and growing up that is, at once, stunning, gutsy, lyrical and saddening – a story not easily forgotten.



14 thoughts on “Alien Cover and Summary

  1. I think you should put up the cover from the original Scholastic edition as well, because it gives us another image for Smitty–

  2. This one sounds REALLY interesting to me with my background in teaching and having had several autistic kids in my career…it’s going on the list to be read soon…

    • Bless yo’ little heart. You are the first to come and leave word – I mean, besides G, who kind of had to.

  3. Ms. Randle,

    I don’t understand the 2009 publication. I recently lost my 1995 Scholastic copy and purchased the 2009 copy on eBook. I cannot tell you how much I have loved this book ever since middle school, reading certain passages over and over. I know much of the dialogue between Ginny and Michael by heart. So I was completely shocked to see that Chapter 14 and later was completely reworked. Instead of Michael having delicate, poetic language, he now speaks with the broken English of someone just learning the language. The original work captured what it meant to translate from internal language to external; this version loses much of that magic. In fact, if I had read this version first, I wouldn’t believe that Michael would stand up to the anthropomorphalizing that Ginny had done while he was silent.

    Your words were so beautiful when first published, please stand up for your work and correct the publication for todays teens! If someone needs the orginal work, my sister still has her 1995 copy!


    • Betsy – I appreciate your feelings in this matter. I really do. I hate it when people change a story when it turns into a script – but have learned that sometimes you have to do that to fit into the hour and a half format most theaters have to have to work into their schedules. There have been times, say with Sense and Sensibility, or especially with Emma, – or Shoeless Joe, the book behind Field of Dreams, where the script version clears up problems in the original story and makes the whole thing work so much better.

      Obviously, that’s not what you’re talking about here, because – offers aside – there has not yet been a serious stab at pre-production on this story. So I am going to give you the unvarnished truth: the new publisher did NOT change this manuscript. I changed it before it went into my private printing. And this is why: one of the things that bothered me about the story, as I grew older and got distance on it, was the seemingly magic way suddenly Michael had found verbal acuity – and this full-blown emotional maturity that allowed him to be poetic in the face of first love. Especially when reality would have been so different than the dreaming he had done. As a philosophical and fairly romantic minded young man, the raw reality of dealing with people juxtaposed with his dreams of what love and relationships might someday be like would certainly have created an intellectual disconnect. Add to that his completely unpracticed voice – and the poetic things he said to Ginny rang hollow to me. They were too quick. To smooth. How could he possibly pledge himself in love with so little understanding of dealing with the world?

      Your point about the language capturing the translations from internal to external is well observed and well taken. But such a device isn’t used anywhere else in the book – so I felt that the internal struggle had to be more honestly delivered in literal dialogue – the halting dialogue of ANY male person putting emotion into words, but especially Michael, whose emotion had ever remained unexpressed. I didn’t want the scene to flow. I wanted it to have wisdom in it, and a truer feeling of the distance he still had to go. It was too easy before. And that ease made it seem almost irresponsible storytelling on my part.

      Telling a story is never all that easy. And having something go into print after you’ve re written it over and over, trying to get the words to reflect what you have in your head and heart – you still stumble across things that don’t satisfy you. But between covers, it’s too dang late. I’ll have to see if I can poke around and find some copies of that first printing so I can send you one. And I apologize for changing things up on you. But “writing” is a fluid thing. Publishing sets it in stone, but the story behind the book is always in flux. Keep in touch in case I find one for you, okay? In fact, if you go like my author page on Facebook (Kristen D Randle) you’ll get info about new things coming up, too. If I can ever get Christmas up and running so that there ARE new things.

  4. My dad gave this book to me to read and I thought it looked weird but read it anyway. I absolutely loved it. Adored it. I lost my first copy but I will be buying another one.

    • Oh, I’m so glad, Rachel! You’ve made my day. I’d love it if you “like” my Facebook page. That’s where I’m posting stuff about the new books and stuff. I think you’d like The Gardener, too. It’s the one that was published just before Christmas. It’s only for Kindle just now, but people are reading it with the Kindle ap on their computers and iPods and things. Isn’t it cool when a book that looks weird turns out to be some thing surprising? Thanks for telling me this.

  5. Randy Becraft says:


    I’m 60 now and have had The Only Alien on the Planet for many years and have read it over and over. It is a masterpiece. I have the 1995 copy; I’ll have to try the more recent version and see if I agree with you or Betsy on how Michael would talk after all those years. I just re-read the book today and was wondering what else I have been missing from you. Obviously a lot! I will rectify that soon!

    I am a hypokindleac and prefer a “real” book. I hope your new books also come out in regular print, although I guess I might be able to get it on my smart phone if I can figure the dang thing out.

    Thank you for this book. It has truly been one of my all-time favorites.

    I’m also LDS and appreciate the strength you portray from this heritage.

    May you continue in success and great blessings.


    • Randy – it was truly wonderful to wake up and find this note from you. I also prefer real books, but am bowing under the weight of “progress.” Almost completely because it allows me some autonomy (good and bad) and because I can afford to make the stories available that way. I reprinted the Alien all by my lonesome some years ago, and it was an educational – and satisfying experience. But it costs like crazy, and doing your own distribution stinks (SO much waste in that system – and it’s brutal on the soul) – and my house – well – it wasn’t designed to be a warehouse, and we felt the weight of it.

      I’ll be very interested to hear your reaction to the edits. I understand her passion, but I understand my own as well.

      Do stay in touch. And I hope you read the others. I’d love to hear what you think of them, too. I’m feeling pretty good about The Gardener. The response, though small, has been solid and exciting. And I think it has some important things to say. But then, where much is given . . .

      my gratitude,


  6. I was just re-reading The Only Alien On The Planet, and was remembering why I fell in love with it. There are only a handful of books that I will read over and over and over again, and this is one of them. I have the 1995 version…not sure I want to check out the newer version. It…never even occurred to me that the same book could have more than one version, to be honest, until I read the reviews and realized that there is a completely different one out there somewhere.

    I was looking to see what other stories you’ve written, and I might have to at least try a few of them, as they sound like something I’d enjoy. Sometimes, I’ll find an author and love lots of their books. Other times, it’s just a one time deal, but that doesn’t make me love the story any less.

    Thank you very much for writing this story, and publishing it. I was really happy to find someplace where I could thank you properly.

    • I know what you mean about finding an author. Sometimes you hit gold, and you just have to follow it back into the body of the mountain. Sometimes, the mine doesn’t play out for long. I appreciate your post more than you know.