The Cardiff Giant
This short comic novel, set in Cooperstown, New York in 2003, is a satire on human gullibility, facetiously targeting the paranormal and beliefs similar to those Carl Sagan discusses in The Demon-Haunted World. Each character is committed to one or another dubious belief system: alien abduction, astrology, kabbalistic numerology, rebirthing, and religious beliefs reduced to literal absurdities. The Cardiff Giant, a huge gypsum sculpture unearthed in the late nineteenth century, has disappeared from the Farmers' Museum, and everybody has a theory why, including that it has been reanimated and is spreading terror throughout the community.
Much of the fun is in how these characters pay such a large price for their beliefs. But I don’t imply that rationality is a sufficient remedy for superstition. The inveterate skeptic turns out to be the most crazed, as the novel descends from happy farce into abnormal psychology. And the narrator, a journalist who wishes to keep an open mind, falls prey to sexual jealousy. The small cast of characters group and regroup, with romance always on their minds, and finally undergo transformations in how they think and feel.
I’m not giving away the surprise ending.