The premise is classic disaster movie territory, almost to the point of cliche ... But the alien overlords are not the focus of Smith’s interest here; they are no more than a device to effect this revolutionary reinvention not only of human society, but of humanity itself ... Cold People is a vastly ambitious novel, tackling the weightiest questions of our time in a form that rarely loses the tension of a thriller, despite the complexity of its subject matter.
Plot is king in Smith’s sci-fi offering. His characters aren’t so much pretend people as admirable, animated types. The result is a page-turner that, without offering much by way of ordinary human feeling, reveals Smith’s view of the human condition ... These are chewy and worthwhile themes, and Cold People cleverly distils them to the point where they play out, and reach a satisfying climax, at human scale ... Cold People will entertain and impress readers who enjoy novels that are containers for ideas. The rest of us may regret that Smith did not linger for longer among the Polynesian navigators, seal hunters and stir-crazy researchers populating his largely irrelevant but wonderfully evocative prologue.
The central story line, a clever homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, unfolds in a way to ensure readers become attached to Echo and her family. Smith, the author of brilliant historical and psychological suspense novels, shows his range is even broader in this triumph of imagination and empathy.