SFRevu brings Science Fiction reviews and interviews to the web each month.
A Word from the Editor: It's been a full year for SFRevu!
NewsBits: News from friends and SF luminaries.
New Titles: Signal to Noise by Eric S. Nylund Children of God by Mary Doria Russell Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton Iron Shadows by Stephen Barnes Ports Of Call by Jack Vance The Face of Apollo: Volume 1 Book of the Gods by Fred Saberhagen
Interview: Eric Nylund - Hyperpunk
RetroReview: William Tenn: The Human Angle
Now in Paperback! Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss Dry Water by Eric S. Nylund Corrupting Dr. Nice by John Kessel Halfway Human by Carolyn Ives Gilman Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle Einstein's Bridge by John Cramer Once A Hero by Elizabeth Moon Wyrm by Mark Fabi
Next Month in SFRevu: Miles, Monsters, and Mayhem in SFRevu's First Annual edition.
This issue marks the end of SFRevu's first year.
A little over a year ago I was bemoaning the lack of air-time for Tony Tellado's radio program, Sci-Fi Talk, on which I was co-host and reviewer, and looking around for a place to put reviews since I didn't seem to be able to stop writing the darn things. Worse, every time I'd run into an author, I had this urge to pull out a tape recorder and start asking questions. It all started as a simple website that I'd put reviews up on while looking for other outlets, but in typical fashion rapidly became a zine of my own, with a crew of great friends and folks doing reviews with me and helping me get it all done.
Here's to a few who made this possible. Sharon Archer, who is more than a copy editor and a friend, is the conscience that keeps me on track and the audience that often keeps me going. Steven Sawicki, Con going bud, full of endless encouragement with bon mots like, "You really should stay with the editing you'll never make it as a writer". Steve is still getting even for a few slight alterations I've made in his submissions. You'll find his first Video Review column for us in this issue, by the way. Tony Tellado, my Sci-Fi Talk pal, has been full of encouragement, and the occasional contribution. Tony's out looking for a radio station we can set up shop on again, and will be doing a few pieces on SFTV in the months to come. Some of my SFABC friends have contributed in either reviews or support or both, and to them I'm very grateful. Linda Zimmermann, Dave Goldfeder (whose Turtledove interview is next month), Asta Sinusas (now reviewing regularly) and of course, Bruce Wallace, the network god (and Sharon's long suffering guy). Thanks go as well to the Amazing Bob Devney, whose wit and insight have graced these pages before and who promises to do more in the future, if the Hugo nomination doesn't go to his head, of course.
New friends like reviewers Susanna Sturgis, Paul Giguerre, and Darcy Richardson (Darcy starts our Vampire coverage this month with BURNT OFFERINGS) promise more good things in the year to come.
I've even been given encouragement by Editors I have admired, and having met, admire more. Chief among them are Warren Lapine (Absolute Magnitude) and Charles Ryan (Aboriginal SF).
And though I know this is running on like some Academy speech, and I'm not even holding an award, the people who deserve the most thanks are the authors who have put up with my questions, encouraged my reviews, and befriended me at Cons. I would dearly like to list them all, but to do so would surely ruin any chance of sending this out on time. I will see many of them at Readercon and WorldCon in the next few months, and look forward to standing each to a round of brew; java or hops, as they prefer. The same goes for the PR folks at publishers and studios alike. Sure, it's their job to get things out, but often they've gone out of their way to be helpful, and I really appreciate it.
Of course, special thanks go to my gal, EJ, who's contributed in every way possible - from putting up with my taking books along on vacation to giving us some excellent reviews (this issue she contributes DAZZLE OF DAY and HALFWAY HUMAN). I met EJ while at Boskone interviewing Lois Bujold, and her support and encouragement have been the greatest gift I could get.
I once had a teacher that warned me that a love of books was all well and good, but it would never replace friends. I count my blessings daily that I have both and hope never to take either for granted. SFRevu has been a consuming avocation, but continues to be fun and rewarding. I've loved SF since I read MISSING MEN OF SATURN in the third grade and between getting all the books I can read and doing something to promote a genre I care about, this is a great gig!
So far, we haven't missed a month, though that's been a struggle, and this is actually the first issue to go online THE FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH. Ready or not...here it goes
Ernest Lilley, Editor / Publisher SFRevu
Subscribe now by Emailing SFRevu@aol.com with any of the following in the subject: 1) "Notify Me" to get notices when the WebPage changes 2) "Email Subscription" to have the text version sent to you via Email.SFRevu@aol.com with the Word NEWSBIT in the message title. Please keep bits down to 100 words or so, and brace yourself for my editing them anyway.
SFRevu: SFRevu is planning a WorldCon Print issue with a full color cover and the works. The first print issue will include review and interviews, (New and the best from the online zine) Including an interview with Lois Bujold about the future and history of the Vorkosigan Saga, an article on Robots in film and print SF, and possibly even some original fiction. (The usual problems - money - will probably delay my megalomania beyond WorldCon, but we'll see. - Ern)
James L. Halperin: THE TRUTH MACHINE by James L. Halperin was voted Best Science Fiction Novel of 1997 by American Book Readers Association. The ABRA currently has 892 members throughout the United States.
Mary Doria Russell: Since we received this newsbit, SPARROW has won the British Science Fiction Association's Best Novel Award and Universal Pictures did indeed pick up the studio option for the film. Congrats and Best wishes! - Ern
THE SPARROW is shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Prize and the British SF Association award (I believe this is the equivalent of getting onto both the Nebula and Hugo lists). The Clarke is juried and the BSFA is a fan award. Needless to say, I am delighted by this. It is also nominated for this year's Dublin Literary Award, and that's a big one (100K in Irish pounds). The Dublin is juried but the nominations come from librarians around the world. All books must be published in English, but genre is open. There are about 150 books nominated each year.
All the signs are that the movie is going forward. Universal Studios is putting money into it and Antonio Banderas is still pumped to play Emilio. Geoff Wright (Director) is hoping for Susan Sarandon and perhaps Tommy Lee Jones for Anne and George Edwards, with John Malkovich as the Reshtar. At this point, only Banderas is actually attached to the project. As soon as the script has been refined, it will begin circulating for casting.
Best guess is that principle photography will begin in early 1999, for a 2000 release.
Geoff has consulted JPL for the spaceship design, and asked for "no magical technology" but rather things that we know could work based on present understandings. JPL designed a laser-driven sail affair, which Geoff predicts will be "the most beautiful spaceship on film." The aliens will be played by actors with prosthetics done by the guy who did last summer's Face/Off with John Travolta and Nick Cage. So it looks like a class act all the way. It's still possible that the project will sink into Development Hell, but so far, so good.
Robert J. Sawyer: Not just a double nominee for the Hugo Award this year -- he's also a double nominee for the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award.
Sawyer's ILLEGAL ALIEN is one of six finalists for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel of the Year, and his "The Hand You're Dealt" -- the same story that's up for the Hugo -- is one of five finalists for the Arthur for Best Short Story of the Year. Sawyer's story originally appeared in the Tor anthology FREE SPACE edited by Brad Linaweaver and Edward E. Kramer. ILLEGAL ALIEN is a courtroom drama with an extraterrestrial defendant. "The Hand You're Dealt" follows a detective investigating the murder of a geneticist aboard a space habitat.
James Gunn: Anyone with an interest in the development of science fiction, and particularly in the ways in which British science fiction developed along a different path from American SF, will be interested in THE ROAD TO SCIENCE FICTION #5: THE BRITISH WAY, edited by James Gunn and just out from White Wolf Publishing. THE ROAD TO SCIENCE FICTION #6: AROUND THE WORLD will be published by White Wolf in July and will offer a survey of science fiction written in other languages than English, and their national or area differences.
Robert Doherty (Bob Mayer): Just signed a two book deal with Berkley under the name Greg Donegan. His first Berkley novel will be published this winter, ATLANTIS: ANKGOR GATE.www.nettrends.com/mayer
Michael Walsh (Middle Earth Books): Let's talk about the Lensmen reprints . . . I've fallen behind. So what else is new. That said, let us note the Worldcon is here in Baltimore; so I'm aiming to have 'em done no later than Bucky.
Paul T. Riddell: I'm apparently going to be the new science columnist for the new "SF Central" (www.sfcentral.com), and I'll have my first installment in the zine after I finish my obligations to "Factsheet Five", "Tangent", and "Speculations". Unlike my usual style, these are going to be very serious, very hard science columns, concentrating on biological science: biology and paleontology are usually ignored in most other discussions of science and SF, so I'm hoping to fill a bit of that gap. They're still going to be fun, closer to the style of James Burke and Stephen Jay Gould than anything else.
Paul also wants it made clear that he did not invent the term "fanboy", as used in the phrase: 'Bite me, fanboy' (attributed to comic artist and writer Keith Giffen). He did however create the phrase: 'clubbing Trekkies like baby seals', for which he wants full credit.
Ian Randal Strock: My first two electronic publications came up in the same week, surprising me mightily. At Mind's Eye Fiction (http://tale.com), I've got "Living It Is the Best Revenge", which won the AnLab for Best Short Story of 1996 in Analog. In Eternity Online (http://members.aol.com/eternityol), I've got "Fermat's Legacy", my first professionally published story, reprinted. Both are accessible through direct links from my home page,http://www.erols.com/irs0.
Readercon '98: deserves a plug here for using SFRevu's Bruce Sterling interview in the program book. Amy West was nice enough to ask and I was pleased to have them reproduce it. I'll be there at Readercon to enjoy the richest collection of authors this side of WorldCon.
New Titles: Signal to Noise by Eric S. Nylund Children of God by Mary Doria Russell Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton Iron Shadows by Stephen Barnes Ports Of Call by Jack Vance The Face of Apollo: Volume 1 Book of the Gods by Fred Saberhagen
Signal to Noise by Eric S. Nylund
ISBN 0-380-97513-0 / Avon/EOS Hrdcvr May '98 / Review by Ernest Lilley
Billed as a "Hyperpunk" novel, SIGNAL TO NOISE marks another path taken by Eric Nylund. To paraphrase someone: I'm going to nominate him for an award, whatever genre he winds up writing in.
Jack Potter has a nice job at the Academé for Pure and Applied Sciences, a few friends among the other researchers, a computer interface in his skull , a breakthrough in code decryption, and whole lot of trouble heading his way.
When someone breaks into his office it's a matter of immediate concern to his former employers, the National Security Office. The break in doesn't worry Jack half as much as the lengths the NSO will go to check the data in his head just to make sure there aren't any leaks. What really worries Jack is what would happen to him if the NSO found out about his breakthrough in noise decoding, or the multinational clients he hacks for. Jack is worried about all the wrong things.
In a not too distant future where the world has reorganized itself in the wake of the great quakes, there is nowhere you can't go virtually, no information that can't be had as easily through the worlds networks as easily as reaching out for it on a table. Except for whatever lies behind the Great Wall of China, which suddenly closed the same day the Earth's tectonic plates decided to reconfigure the shorelines of the world. California is a gulf, seventy years later they're still dredging for the Pentagon, and the Dutch's famous ability to keep water out now serves them just as well to keep it in.
Jack's parents were killed by Chinese agents when he was young, or so he's been told, and his only connection to family is his mysterious Uncle Ray, popping in and out with money, firearms and Steinbeck novels at just the wrong time for Jack to keep a low profile. Especially since the NSO is sure Ray is a Chinese agent. All things considered, they may be right.
None of this is Jack's real problem. His real problem is that someone has enticed him into stealing an exotic isotope from the Academé's high energy physics lab and to make sense out of the electromagnetic noise it produces. Sense that will transform mankind and the world when he figures out what to do with it. If every story has a mythic root, then this one's is Pandora's box.
Soon Jack's on the run from not just the NSO, the Chinese and an alien carpetbagger, but his girlfriend and business associate or whatever it is she's turning into. Unfortunately the Earth may not be big enough for all of them.
Nylund's vision of ubiquitous computing is cautionary, creative and compelling, all at once. The world is divided into haves and have nots, the haves being people with implanted computer links feeding them information alongside the data received by their senses. On the Academé's campus, Jack discovers, all is not as it appears to those who see in data as well as light. Just how much of what seems real is illusion is only one of the things he will have to uncover. To a linked individual, reality appears clothed in virtual reality, full of hyperlinks to information about what is real, or masks to transform the mundane into the extraordinary. As far as I know this is the first real exploration of this blurring between virtual and real, though something of the same sort could be said of VIRTUAL LIGHT's data glasses, or - in a way - of holocharacters on the current Treks. Each of those deal with a shared reality, though, and Eric Nylund's vision allows each individual to color the scene in his own way. Granted that the processor power and neural interfaces required are some ways off, but the notion seems tremendously attractive.
" You think that VR network makes you smarter? Or better than the rest of us?"
"We communicate faster. This conversation would be flashed between us in a fraction of a second. If that's intelligence, then yeah, maybe it does make us smarter."
Maybe it does, but beyond a certain point there's no guarantee that the universe considers intelligence a valuable survival trait.
SIGNAL TO NOISE leaves plenty of room for a sequel, in fact it leaves enough questions hanging so that it deserves one, but if one follows, be sure that it too will be different from whatever the author has done before. Eric Nylund continues to grow as a writer, and whatever he turns his gaze on next is sure to be worth looking at.
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
ISBN 0-679-4535-X / Villard Hrdcvr Mar '98 / Review by Ernest Lilley
"You are beloved of God," he said. "And you will live to see what you have made possible when you return to Rakhat."
Sandoz's head snapped up. "I won't go back."
"And if you are asked to do so by your superior?" Loporte asked, brows up, glancing at Giuliani.
Vincenzo Giuliani, forgotten until now in his corner, found himself looking into Emilio Sandoz's eyes and was, for the first time in some fifty-five years, utterly cowed. He spread his hands and shook his head, beseeching Emilio to believe: I didn't put him up to this.
"Non serviam," Sandoz said, turning from Giuliani, "I won't be used again."
"Not even if We ask it?" the Pope pressed.
"So. Not for the Society. Not for Holy Mother Church. Nevertheless for yourself and for God, you must go back," Gelasius III told Emilio Sandoz with a terrifying, joyful certainty. "God is waiting for you, in the ruins."
- Children of God
Emilio Sandoz, Jesuit priest, linguist, sole survivor of the disastrous first contact mission to Rakhat, has been raped, mutilated, crippled in body and soul, and watched everyone he loves killed. And that was only the beginning.
In Mary Doria Russell's powerful first novel, THE SPARROW, Earth discovered radio signals from a nearby star system containing the songs of a distant alien poet. While the nations of the world balanced their budgets and considered the utility of exploration, the Catholic church did what it has done since the beginning of European exploration. It sent Jesuits. The Society of Friends, as that order is known, is a very different group of believers. They are teachers and students of the universe, believing that knowledge is not a barrier to faith, but an instrument of it. They went, as the author points out with such laden portent, " so that they might come to know and love God's other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the farthest frontiers of human exploration. They went for the greater glory of God. They meant no harm."
If that doesn't fill you with a sense of foreboding, you obviously aren't paying attention.
Mary Doria Russell is an author worth paying attention to. She has gone from an author on the fringe of Science Fiction to one that is changing the nature of the genre, largely by word of mouth. Firmly grounded in science, having published works on paleo-anthropology and written NMR manuals, she turned to the really difficult work of writing fiction. In these two books she has bridged a chasm rarely crossed by authors, that between faith and science. There are no angels popping into her story with knowing glances heavenwards. You will not find a convincing miracle at the end to make everything ok, and if you think you do, the author will set you straight. You will find challenges to faith and understanding, and as each of the characters do, you will come away from them discontent or satisfied, reassured or unsettled, and better for it.
The characters in both books are challenged by the quest for meaning in life. The cast covers a wide range of perspectives regarding faith - from the Pope, whom we are allowed to assume is certain of his, to the aliens - who have never known religion of any stripe.
Ironically, the first faith to take hold on Rakhat won't be Christianity, but one with a stronger dietary tradition. You see, there are two races on Rakhat. The peaceful, intelligent, tool making Runa, who made the mistake of copying the gardening practices the human explorers started, and the aggressive Jana'ata. The Jana'ata are warriors, merchants, and poets. They own everything, control everything, and oh yes...they raise the Runa to serve them. With the right sauce, as W.C. Fields once commented, they are delicious.
Imagine if aliens came to Earth and contacted cows, established communications, made friends, and showed them how a change in their diet could make them leaner and live longer. And then met the ranchers.
SF has been around long enough so that the setup for this conflict has precedence. James Blish's CASE OF CONSCIENCE (1958) is worth reading for his take on similar themes, and Frederick Pohl's, HOMEGOING (1989) asks the question in reverse, when the central character realizes he isn't human, but a modified alien cow. First Contact with the tenants rather than the landlords has been done repeatedly in short stories as well, but Russell's background in anthropology and a real gift for characterization make her stories fresh and eminently worthwhile.
The story structure is more complicated than the dual narrative of THE SPARROW. It jumps around a bit, starting on Earth, where Emilio is recovering in mind as well as body from the ravages visited on him in THE SPARROW; to Rakhat, where a guerilla warfare movement is blooming as the sheep turn on their masters; and in deep space on board the second Jesuit mission to Rakhat, this time an alliance with another traditional Italian organization, one which hasn't bankrupted itself and is always interested in a new territory. God works through the tools at hand, some would say. The treasons of man are proof there is no God, others might reply.
The emotional crescendo that the previous book led up to is diffused here as the characters go separate ways and agendas split their loyalties. We meet a new generation of human, Jana'ata, and Runa, fight a guerilla war with satellite imagery available to both sides, and ultimately find peace for some of the characters and races we have become fond of. Peace at a terrible cost, but peace nonetheless. When I complained to the author that she was putting Emilio through more heartbreak and that it was unfair, she promised that she would make it up to him in the end. Perhaps she does, but you may decide for yourself whether it comes too dear.
If you haven't read THE SPARROW, you should. If you have, you probably need little encouragement to read CHILDREN OF GOD, but I'll add mine anyway. I'm the kind of person who wonders about the meaning of life at least once a day, and Mary Doria Russell's books remind me that the questions are as important as the answers.
ISDN 0-441-00524-1 / Ace Hrdcvr May '98/ Review by Darcy Richardson
With BURNT OFFERINGS, Hamilton continues her infamous Vampire series in which the undead have been granted legal rights by Congress. Anita Blake is an animator of the dead and executioner of the undead. Not quite swayed by the popular opinion that vampires are "just ordinary folks with fangs," and possessing quite extraordinary psychic abilities, she draws the attention of the vampire world. Blake is the typical rebellious detective who is always accused of "crossing the line." This aspect gives the series wide appeal and not just to vampire lovers.
The series is by no means dark and gothic as most vampire stories are but incorporates the supernatural as everyday life, giving it a lighter feel.
In BURNT OFFERINGS, Blake struggles with her dual nature as she takes on the role of protector to the same "monsters" she has always executed. Finally won by her vampire lover Jean-Claude, her reputation has diminished among her human co-workers as she has become lupa (leader of the pack) to the werewolves and an alpha (top cat) to the wereleopards. In the midst of these emotional conflicts, mysterious problems begin with the vampires of the city. Fires breakout around the cities in known vampire havens and bodies lay burning as a result of early risings. Blake must find the cause, whether it is the fanatical anti-vampire group, Humans First, or something more sinisterly supernatural. She soon learns the answer when Jean-Claude is summoned to meet with the Council, the most powerful vampires in the world. He is accused of trying to divide the vampire world by starting his own council. Together with Blake, he must face his past and save the lives of his vampires.
Although the main plot is focused on the Council and the vampires of the city, Hamilton also examines the shapeshifters and develops their stories in great detail. Although the shapeshifters are enmeshed in the struggle with the Council through the Master of Beasts, they play more of a watcher role. They are the victims and behave that way, but do support Blake through the powers of the pack. Even though they are not a main fighting force in the struggle, Hamilton develops the characters well through interpersonal relationships.
Hamilton does a good job at focusing on the powers of the spirit and mind. Throughout the story, characters, especially Blake, draw strength from past spirits as well as the minds of their comrades to overcome seemingly unbeatable odds. Hamilton does include several sensual scenes in which touch and intense emotion are used to heal. Typical to the Anita Blake series, the spirit world is ever present in the background, which is to be expected given Blakes abilities as an animator.
The ending of BURNT OFFERINGS is fairly anti-climatic, the last face-off being very much like all of the other meetings. The characters are fairly well developed although often unsympathetic. Blake is really the only fighter in the story and Jean-Claude, master of the city, does very little even though the Council has come for him and not Blake. The Council itself seems to put up a mild fight even though they are the strongest vampires in the world and have come to the city in anger.
Anita Blake readers will find BURNT OFFERINGS well worth reading, though the uninitiated may not find it a paragon of thrills or high fantasy, merely entertaining.
ISBN 0-312-85708-X / Tor Hardcover Feb '98 / Review by Steven Sawicki
This is a somewhat difficult book to characterize. It falls almost into Action Adventure with touches of SF. It's also written by a screenwriter so it's a very visual book on top of it all. (I should point out that there are parts of this book that almost read like a padded screenplay.)
The book is about a cult, about twins conceived in the nuclear waste of post W.W.II Japan. The twins have special powers, they can heal, they can destroy, they can do other things. They have a very loyal following which is growing. They are also the target of an investigation led by one Cat Juvell, her ex-husband and her crippled brother. Juvell is digging into their background at the request of a wealthy individual concerned about his sister who has joined the cult. Juvell and her crew are drawn into the world of the cult and into the odd mix of sex and personal development which seems to be at its basic core. Everything is not as it seems and Barnes adds a few twists and turns that keep the plot interesting. Ultimately, this is basic Action Adventure with just a twist of SF. One could argue that the SF elements are not really needed to make the book but they add to the overall flavor.
Barne's screenwriting talents come to the fore in terms of his ability to keep this book fast paced and moving. Think of many of the more recent Action Adventure films and you have a pretty good idea of what this book is about. The pace is fast and the action fast as well, if stretching plausibility at times. Still, it's a rousing adventure with just enough twists and turns and odd aspects that the whole thing ends up being quite enjoyable.
Parts of the book certainly resonate with cult activities we have all heard about over the past few years. The book is more than that though as Barnes pretty adeptly melds a number of different aspects into a somewhat cohesive whole. An interesting and fun read from page one through the end.
ISBN 0-312-85801-9 / Tor Apr '98 / Review by Paul Giguere
Following Vance's excellent 1996 book NIGHT LAMP, which had engaging characters and a great plot, PORTS OF CALL goes in the opposite direction and takes us on a space voyage that, although starts off well and has some interesting characters, lacks any cohesive plot and ultimately doesn't really go anywhere.
Myron Tany, a young man who has, against his parents wishes, chosen to study astrogation rather than accounting, spends his time accompanying his rich and eccentric aunt, Dame Hester Lajoie, to parties and such until she reveals that she is the owner of a space yacht that she won gambling. Not normally interested in space travel, Hester declines offers to take a trip until she discovers a journal article about a clinic that specializes in youth restoration that may exist on another planet.
Prompted by a desire to recapture her youth, Hester hires Myron to be captain of the yacht, after Hester's boyfriend is caught cheating on her, to find the planet where the clinic is located. With a full crew, they leave on their quest only to find that Hester's former, and now reformed, boyfriend is waiting at the first planet they put in to and Myron is eventually left behind with just enough fare to go back home.
Instead of returning home, Myron takes a job on a space freighter and spends the remainder of the novel going from port to port to take on cargo and passengers. The problem is that although each of the ports are interesting and amusing, they are basically unrelated and there isn't any promise of a larger plot that pulls everything together other than the first few chapters that set the book up. Vance is considered one of the great Science Fiction writers primarily for his inventive and well constructed writing and PORTS OF CALL has that but without a plot to bring everything together, the novel founders. A sequel seems to be in the offing, and hopefully the author will include a more fully realized plot.
ISBN 0-312-86408-6 / Tor Apr 98 Trade / Review by Ernest Lilley
After thousands of years of potent magics the gods have left the affairs of man. Or have they? In the villages, old people tell stories of the Gods, but in the city they study odylic science (magic) and wonder if the gods still exist at all.
At the beginning of THE FACE OF APOLLO, Apollo is slain in the Cave of Prophecy by Hades, God of the underworld. Hades too is badly injured, if not slain, and is dragged away by his minions to recover. All that remains of Apollo's legions are seven humans, wounded by monsters attendant to the Dark Lord and filled with despair. But not without purpose. If Apollo is to rise again, someone must retrieve the mask of Apollo from the ruin of his body and carry it to a worthy bearer.
Young Jeremy is a boy becoming a man in a small farming village. Living with his childless aunt and uncle and working the vineyards of the village, he is largely scorned for his foreign accent and different appearance, including his shock of red hair. When he comes upon the wounded bearer of the Face of Apollo he falls immediately in love with her and agrees to help her travel to the Academy downriver to the sea to deliver her precious burden. He has no idea that the burden is the gift of godhood, has never heard of the Academy or seen a city, but she's beautiful, wounded, blonde, and pays considerably more attention to him than the scornful village girls. Before he can either steal a boat and spirit her away or for her to tell him the purpose of her mission, the demons of Hades' descend on the village and he barely escapes with his life, her burden, and her memory. Luke vows to deliver the plans to the battlestar to Alderon. No, wait, that's a different story. Jeremy vows to deliver the pouch to the Academy, where professor Alexander will know what to do with it. For better or for worse, Jeremy opens the pouch and inevitably tries on the mask.
Interestingly, Jeremy is the first character I've encountered in Fantasy to be nearsighted. He can see the moon, but only dream about the stars. Well, wearing the mask of a god is a tad better than bifocals. When Jeremy puts on the mask it becomes part of him, giving him godsight and the knowledge of an immortal's lifetime.
The most notable thing about this book is the viewpoint provided by a human/god synthesis, as we get to watch Jeremy first discover the sleeping giant sharing his skull and then fight for some control over his own mind as Apollo awakens. The author creates an interesting god - capricious, limited, and full of the renowned appetites of legend. Combine a male human just past puberty with an insatiable god and you get a potent combination.
Jeremy journeys down the river towards the Academy, finding a research expedition from the same institution in disarray and throwing his lot in with them. Eventually they arrive at the city of Pangur Ban where the study of odylic science (magic) is in bloom and the Academy is growing. There he meets a young soldier named Andy Ferrante, who distinguished himself in combat and has been appointed to the Academy guard. Andy also is out of place, a boy amongst seasoned veterans and he and Jeremy try to understand the world around them.
Apollo's presence is rather like an AI or hypertext overlay for reality, not unlike that in SIGNAL TO NOISE. Jeremy plays dumb, learning his role as a servant to the academic and biding his time. When he finally meets one of the two people he was supposed to entrusted the mask to, the man is killed by the god of death before Jeremy can talk to him. The other left on an expedition to the cave where the gods battled and has not returned. Meanwhile Jeremy deals with his inner transformation and keeps his distance from the people around him, lest they be claimed by Thanatos, the god of death, in the game of cat and mouse he is playing.
The military balance between local potentates unravels and an expedition to the cave of the oracle is mounted with a multitude of missions. Magical research and finding the missing professor are real to the people charged with them, but only a cover for the military escort, charged with seizing control of the high ground on the cave's mountain. It comes as little surprise when Jeremy/Apollo winds up striding into the Cave of Prophecy, where the last avatar of Apollo met his demise to do battle with the Lord of the Underworld.
Epic Fantasy inevitably repeats the usual elements, and authors have to work hard to find new spins for them. In THE FACE OF APOLLO, Saberhagen mixes Greek gods with his human/god symbiote for a fresh look into the minds and means of gods. While I liked the book reasonably well, it annoyed me that I could never quite figure out how much license the author had taken with Greek mythology and culture. I'm not suggesting that an author isn't allowed to, but in a lot of ways the characters had a more Indiana Jones feel to them than Ancient Greek. I'm not sure if Margaret and Carlotta were classical Greek names, but pretty clearly this isn't classic Greece. A number of times he refers to the "onboard god fragment", and I expect him to develop the true nature of his gods in future books. I will admit that his take on deity is new, though if you read HELM, by Stephen Gould (reviewed in SFRevu 2.3) you would find the dual intelligence created by sharing your mind with a god a bit familiar.
Saberhagen's spin on Fantasy provides an interesting change of pace, his characters are likable and reasonably well developed. These are certainly gods you can relate to, and having created a new universe in these pages, it will be fun to see what mischief mortals and gods can find, and what questions can be answered by the author's oracle.
Interview: Eric Nylund - Hyperpunk
In 1994, Eric Nylund went to Clarion West, after finishing his first two novels; PAWN'S DREAM (1995) and A GAME OF UNIVERSE (1996). Last year he came out with DRY WATER (1997) and his newest novel, SIGNAL TO NOISE is coming out this month. After plucking both DRY WATER and SIGNAL TO NOISE out of the incoming stack, and enjoying both (reviewed this issue) I decided I'd like to ask the author a few questions. Eric was happy to oblige, and here's the result.
SFRevu: How has SIGNAL TO NOISE been received?
Eric Nylund: The reviews have been positive, some overwhelmingly. The publication date of SIGNAL TO NOISE is May, so I haven't received much reader feedback yet.
SFR: Have you considered a sequel, or at least keeping a universe once you've created it? (I'd like to go back to DRY WATER, but you can't bring back the dead, if only because it cheats the reader out of the emotional value of the character's demise.)
EN: I'm working on a sequel for SIGNAL TO NOISE - writing the last chapter as a matter of fact. You should see it out next year sometime.
SFR: What's your next book about?
EN: The book after this sequel I'm keeping quiet about. I'm one of those writers that thinks if they talk about the next story it jinxes them. On a psychological level, I think that talking about a novel satisfies some of the desire to tell the story. I'm saving all of my energy for the written version.
SFR: What was the first SF book you read?
EN: The PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Jester.
SFR: What did you read growing up?
EN: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, THE EARTHSEA TRILOGY, and perhaps, too much H.P. Lovecraft for my own good.
SFR: Who do you read in SF today? What's the ratio of fiction to nonfiction you read?
EN: My reading is about 99% non-fiction. I tend to absorb the style of whomever I'm reading at the time. This is troublesome when I'm reading non-fiction, fatal for fiction.
SFR: Was your first book your first sale, and how long did it take to get it accepted?
EN: Yes, PAWN'S DREAM, was the first thing I wrote. After I finished the book, it took me 11 months to find an agent, then 2 more months to sell it to Avon books.
SFR: How did you feel while you were waiting, and when you got the acceptance?
EN: The suspense was terrible. I started writing A GAME OF UNIVERSE during that year. It was tough. I had no outside validation that what I was doing was any good.
And how did it feel when PAWN'S DREAM was accepted? I smiled all day!
SFR: You researched writing a great deal before you started. Did it help? What advice do you give people who want to write?
EN: Some of the advice from the how-to-write books made sense to me, but a lot didn't. You have to cull the good from the bad and figure out what works for you. Everyone writes differently, so everyone has something different to learn.
My advice to new writers is: Don't be intimidated. 99% of writing can be learned. The other 1% is inspiration and imagination, and you already have that or you wouldn't be interested in writing in the first place.
SFR: So far I've only read your post-Clarion work. What made you decide to go to Clarion after writing two novels?
EN: I'm always looking to improve my writing. After completing PAWN'S DREAM and A GAME OF UNIVERSE, and reading about 200 how-to books on writing, I was running out of ways to improve. I thought I might enroll in some creative writing classes or an MFA program, or Clarion.
SFR: What was it like?
EN: The short answer: Clarion is boot camp for SF/Fantasy writers.
The long answer is Clarion can change your life. You're exposed to, and critiqued by, six professional writers. Some people walk away from Clarion and never write again. Some muddle along unchanged from the experience. And some change entirely, burning with a desire to write and write and never stop. Guess which one I was?
SFR: Actually it sounds like the basis for one of your stories, since your characters hardly muddle along unchanged. How much of you goes into a character?
EN: Virtually nothing of me goes into my characters. A person's life experiences is an extremely shallow well. Not that my life isn't rich and full, but you'd be amazed how quickly the details of one person's life gets used up. If anything of myself shows up in my characters, it's a certain smart-aleck attitude.
SFR: Do you game out the entire novel before you start?
EN: I outline my novels beforehand. It is essential for managing the complex plotlines I like to develop. Also, an outline is a useful marketing tool. I use it to sell my novels.
SFR: Is it is harder to start a novel or finish one?
EN: Starting a novel is easy. When you start, it's all dream and wonder and excitement - then a year of hard works follows. Finishing the damn thing is hard.
SFR: When did you become a full time writer? Do you still write in the morning now that you have all day to do it?
EN: I became a full-time writer June 27, 1996. I get my best writing done in the mornings. I'm up at 6am every morning. The middle of the day drags and I get practically nothing done. Evenings, things pick up and I can write some more.
SFR: FTL travel has long been a Holy Grail of SF, though wormholes seem to be the propagation technique of choice these days. Do you believe that anything, natural or artificial, will ever get around relativistic limitations?
EN: As a trained scientist, I have to say no. Not with the technology we have. However, the storyteller in me says . . . maybe. In a thousand years who knows what our science will be like? But it certainly won't be the humans we recognize as humans today zipping around in FTL ships.
SFR: At a time when the household names in cyber fiction are backing off from neural interfaces SIGNAL TO NOISE uses direct neural links to access cyber reality. Is that wishful thinking, or is research getting close? Anyone in particular?
EN: I don't think direct computer-to-human mind links are possible. Not the kind of thing where you have a person jacking his brain directly into a computer. Neuro-physiologists agree that the way the human mind operates is nothing like digital computers.
The way I envision a virtual interface working is by inducing human-like electrochemical responses inside a human brain.
SFR: Who coined the term Hyperpunk? What hyper-heck is it? How does it relate to Cyberpunk?
EN: The credit for this term should go to Jennifer Brehl, my editor at Avon EOS books.
Cyberpunk focuses on humans going deeper into machines - hacking code, zipping though cyberspace . . . the exploration of a digital landscape. Hyperpunk, on the other hand, turns the human mind inside out. With elegant metaphors and hunch-searching algorithms, people explore their own mindscapes, and enhance human to human, rather than human to machine, communication.
SFR: Is the hardware for it available, or even possible?
EN: I believe so. Today we have sophisticated MRI and PET scanners that can show which parts of the brain are active for a given task or thought. A research group in Japan has claimed to have a helmet that can interpret these neural impulses and translate them into computer commands.
Given a large enough database for these patterned responses, it might be possible to induce them within a person's brain, reproducing sensations, emotions, maybe even things like flashes of inspiration.
The tricky part would be the microsurgery involved to instill a fine mesh of wires throughout the brain. Precise magnetic fields could then induce charges similar to those induced when neurons undergo an electrochemical cascade of ions across their semi-permeable membranes.
SFR: Outside of writing, do you have any particular passions? Both the main characters in DRY WATER and SIGNAL TO NOISE work too hard and play too little. Is this a reflection of their creator?
EN: I have plenty of other interests. Last year, Syne and I planned our wedding, then took a month-long honeymoon where we hiked across the Grand Canyon, went river rafting, spelunking, and traveled halfway across America. We bought a new house, moved in, got two new kittens from the Humane Society, started a garden, split a cord of wood, learned how to make glass beads, and went on a book signing tour down the West coast.
. . . If anything, I'm not working hard enough.
SFR: We'll take that as a yes. Do you have any appearances or Cons planned for the rest of '98?
EN:I recently attended Norwescon in Seattle and plan to attend Orycon in November.
RetroReview: The Human Angle by William Tenn
Ballantine Books 1956 Paperback/ Review by Ernest Lilley
We were kicking humor in SF around recently at my SF Topic discussion group, and after praising and damning Douglas Adams the conversation turned to "my favorite humorous short story". In my case, it's always been "The Flat Eyed Monster", which I attributed to Asimov, and was reminded, gently, that the mind is the first thing to go, and it was written by William Tenn. I knew that. William Tenn wrote a number of my favorite stories in fact, and some that have changed the way I look at things. At some point I plan to do an interview, as I'm told he's still teaching.
THE HUMAN ANGLE is a collection of short stories printed in 1956 after individually appearing in Galaxy Science Fiction, for the most part in the preceding two years. Tenn is a sardonic humorist whose spin on things still amuses me, some 30 years after discovering him. William Tenn is bemused by the human condition, or ahem, angle. His heroes can be as heroic as any in a Lensman novel, but you read with dreadful certainty that at the end of the story the author will put it all in perspective. From the start he was a good short story writer. Knowing that his stories are setups for some perspective inducing twist at the end detracts not a whit from the pleasure of the stories themselves. It just helps them stick in you mind a little better.
The eight stories in this slim 152 page paperback include a few delightful shorts like "Project Hush" which builds up suspense about what the first explorers to the moon find on landing, and "A Man of Family" wherein the author takes a look at population control from a vantage point now nearly 40 years past. Somehow, I don't suppose he is at all surprised that we face the same dilemmas now that we did then, and are no closer to solving them.
The title story, "The Human Angle" is a juicy bit about a reporter beating the backroads looking for something to flesh out a Vampire story, who picks up a young girl hitchhiking. The perfect person to get the human angle for his story from. Until he realizes he's bitten off more than he can chew.
As relevant today as when it was written, "The Party of Second Part" is a story about the local definition of censorship...
My favorite story in the book remains "The Flat Eyed Monster", which is delightfully typical of Tenn. It's a tale where scientists teleport an alien beast from its home world to study and it runs amok in the city, killing with the deadly beams that emanate from its horrible flat eyes. Perfectly normal looking human eyes to us of course, but to the non-human scientists, they turn out to be deadly. The story reads with all the high drama of a 50s SF movie, and ends with the twist that Tenn always adds. Not just a funny bit at the end, but something that shifts your understanding of the whole story.
It strikes me as a great pity that William Tenn's stories are not currently in print, but they are fairly easy to find at SF Cons in the dealer's rooms. I strongly recommend all his books, none of which are especially thick and all but one (OF MEN AND MONSTERS) short story collections.
SFRevu Goes to the Movies: Sawicki's Video Review (by Steve Sawicki)
I like movies. I like all movies. I like genre films best though. Im also willing to give a movie a bit more leeway than, say, a novel, since its such a composite thing. Everyone gets their fingers in a film so its hard to figure out which hand you should slap for poor presentation. Here are a few big budget features that are best watched with B movie colored glasses, but despite what you may have heard, are worth watching on video, anyway.
Columbia, Rated R., 97 Minutes, Starring Laurence Fishburne Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Directed by Paul Anderson, Music by Michael Kaman, Screenplay by Philip Eisner.
Is it a bad thing when the opening shot of a hard SF movie includes the sound of thunder in deep space? Is it a bad thing when a huge spaceship, engines dead, lifeless, hangs in the turbulent atmosphere of Neptune, nearly motionless? Is it a bad thing that an intercepted distress message can only be figured out by a crew member onboard the rescue shuttle because he knows Latin? What if he had not come along? Is this the kind of job that general studies majors will end up holding in the future? Yeah, my major was English with a minor in Latin and all I could get was this stupid shuttle pilot job. Thank goodness he was present, otherwise the crew would have been in real trouble. Well, since most of them die anyway, I guess it really does not matter to the crew whether or not he was there after all. It matters to us, the viewers, however since we would be terribly confused if we did not have that telling piece of information right at the beginning.
Okay, ignoring the few minor errors above this is a very interesting movie. I loved it. Truly. I mean it. I loved the ship. I loved Sam Neills stoic stupidity as the designer of the research vessel Event Horizon which, using a brand new gravity drive warps space and travels to the next galaxy. (Its an evil galaxy though, which might explain why the crew is all dead and it took seven years to return--and you thought seven was a lucky number.) I loved Laurence Fishburns stoic leadership as the shuttle captain and the way he bosses people around. Sure, nearly everyone dies but they really arent all that likable or competent to begin with. Sure, this is a haunted house in space--Alien without the alien, but I still enjoyed it. I liked the feel of the film, sort of a gothic cathedral in space. I liked the horror involved and the nasty special effects. While it did not terrify me there were a few moments which had me almost jumping. I think the part that terrified me most came right at the end where it appeared, at least for a brief moment, that they were building for a sequel.
Dimension Films, Rated R, 105 Minutes, Starring Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, F. Murray Abraham, Charles Dutton, Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, Music by Marco Beltrami, Creatures by Rob Bottin.
Its hard to believe that you can actually do a genre movie involving cockroaches and do it seriously. Mimic accomplishes this though as it starts in New York, where an insidious virus known a Stricklers Disease is killing children. Into the fray steps the CDC (I know, youve never even seen the Center for Disease Control in your neighborhood which makes it all the more usable for a screenplay since its so mysterious) and a young doctor who concocts a biological agent to do in the disease carrying cockroaches. I wont go into the science (as if there really were science involved here) but let me say this, surprisingly, everything somehow goes horribly wrong. Of course it would be merely a short film if everything went horribly right so I guess we can thank the CDC for their intervention.
Three years pass and giant cockroaches are now roaming the underground of New York--eating bums, laying eggs, disguising themselves as homeless people, attacking the occasional priest, but generally leaving everyone alone. Back into the fray steps the CDC, only to discover that they are the cause of this latest infestation. So, off we go on a tour of the underground. Frankly, this movie made me want to call up SFRevu Editor Ern and see if we could go and do some exploring ourselves. The New York Underground, especially those abandoned subway stations and tunnels look really neat, well, interesting if not exactly neat.
Back to the movie though. The monsters were quite well done, very realistic. Mira Sorvino looks good, even covered with cockroach goo. Theres only four or five fatal flaws in the film's logic so that makes it near perfect, and the pacing keeps your mind involved with the film and not on your next trip to the refrigerator for munchies. A fun frolic through the depths.
New Line Cinema, PG 13, 98 minutes, Starring Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, Brian Thompson, Lynn Red Williams, James Remar, Directed by John Leonetti.
This is the sequel to, yes, you guessed it, Mortal Kombat. It seems that once again the evil sorcerers from Outworld are threatening the Earth. Only Radon and his gang of good fighters can save the day. Much Kung Fu. Great special effects. Story line from the comic books. Actually this whole thing is based on one of those video fight games so its actually pretty amazing that they managed not one but two films out of it. The music rocks and you could almost argue that if they cut all the dialog and just had fighting and music this would be a better film. Still, theres a chick with four arms and a centaur with a lizard tail and guys who can blast freezing rays and a guy with metal arms and they all fight. How can you get any better than that? Lui Kang saves the world once more. Jonny Cage dies. Radons brother is revealed (and the only ones who didn't know were his closest friends and associates, natch.) Much quasi philosophy is bandied about, but mostly theres lots of fighting in strange landscapes. Fun for the whole family.Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss Dry Water by Eric S. Nylund Corrupting Dr. Nice by John Kessel Halfway Human by Carolyn Ives Gilman Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle Einstein's Bridge by John Cramer Once A Hero by Elizabeth Moon Wyrm by Mark Fabi
Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss
ISBN 0-312-86437-X / Tor Trade Apr '98/ Review by EJ McClure
THE DAZZLE OF DAY is evocative of the best of Le Guin in its luminous craft. Through the eyes of the inhabitants of the worldship DUSTY MILLER we experience the patient interweaving of culture, technology and faith as they voyage slowly between the stars. The story begins with the wry, pithy narrative of Dolores, a solitary old woman forced to leave behind all she holds most dear and familiar in a dying world she loves in order to claim her place in the new world being created by her Quaker community aboard DUSTY MILLER.
The theme of release and renewal threads through the interwoven stories of Juko, a sailmender, and her husband Bjoro, a member of the scouting team that has gone ahead of DUSTY MILLER to prospect for a landing place in the new world. But there is no Eden at the end of the MILLER's long voyage. The world Bjoro finds is cold, windy, and unspeakably desolate to the eyes of a man accustomed to the orderly confines of the tropical paradise safe inside DUSTY MILLER's hull.
Marooned by the crash of their landing craft, Bjoro and his comrades must struggle for survival in the arctic landscape. The unexpected manner of his return to DUSTY MILLER echoes the violence of his experiences in the new world, and precipitates a crisis in the tightly-knit community.
Gloss skillfully borrows elements of the Hispanic, Japanese and Scandinavian cultures to create the tiny cosmos of the MILLER. Though not all of the descendents of the multigenerational crew adhere to the Quaker faith of the original colonists, their community is ordered on the principles of consensus decision making and peaceful communal living, a legacy of the Friends who founded DUSTY MILLER. The struggle to choose between the harsh rigors of the new world and the comfort of the small but fragile ecosystem aboard MILLER is played out in counterpoint to the struggle between Bjoro and Juko as they decide whether to repair or renounce their marriage. Friends and family members' voices are spliced through the main narrative, each offering a different perspective on the conflict, until a resolution is achieved in much the same way that a weighty manner is decided in Meeting.
The drama of love and letting go is played out yet a third time in the concluding chapter of the story and vindicates the painful choices made in the previous narratives. Letting go or holding on, death which leads to rebirth, love and loss, all come full circle in a set piece which could stand alone as a short story, yet serves admirably to conclude this fine novel.
Molly Gloss has a keen eye for detail, and an ear for poetry. The congruency of her characters' faith, thoughts and actions gives them depth unusual in the genre. Most of the drama is internal, and some readers may find the deliberate pacing too slow for their liking. The utopian world of the DUSTY MILLER holds up remarkably well to the dazzle of daylight.
Dry Water by Eric S. Nylund
ISBN 0-380-79614-7 / AVON/EOS Apr '98 Paperback / Hardcover Feb '97 / Review by Ernest Lilley
Larry drove fast. He had to. He was being chased by lighting.
The storm waited for a prophet...riding a white horse dappled with red blotches. He left a city by the sea and a woman in tears. He wore silver armor that was not metal and mist clung to him and obscured his face. He sought a water that could not be drunk. And in his vision, Nick saw the city limits sign for Dry Water, New Mexico.
Larry Ngitis is a Science Fiction writer with three books to his name. He also has a knack for seeing the future and is currently on the run from a cozy vision of marital bliss and stagnation back in San Francisco. Larry is about to drive into Dry Water, New Mexico in his old white van, with dappled red rust splotches. He doesn't know it yet, but there's more waiting for him there than the simple midlife crisis he's running from.
Dry Water is about to become a battleground for the most powerful spiritual forces the world has known, including a necromancer, a shaman, an earth goddess and a gunslinger shot 13 times in the guest bedroom of the Silver Dollar 110 years ago. At stake is the course of time and the nature of reality. And everyone's waiting for Larry so they can get started.
Dry Water is no place for a vacation.
Author Eric Nylund packs more magic, history and adventure into these 362 pages than a prospector's pack mule can carry into the New Mexico desert. I almost bailed when it became apparent that we were in for a collision of cultural magics - Navaho, Celtic, Tibetan, Hebrew, Egyptian and more. All the arts learned in lifespans stretching thousands of years into the past. But in addition to the powerful spiritual inhabitants of Dry Water are creatures at once more fantastic and familiar than long dead spirit warriors and undead necromancers. Dry Water is crawling with authors.
From the local coffee shop and bookstore to the recluse of the legendary golden age SF writer Dolinski (modeled after Zelazny) and the magical worlds he created, there's a lot of terrain that an SF fan can feel at home in. In fact, putting an SF writer at the center of a Fantasy makes it all a bit more comprehensible for folks who normally walk a bit more on the Hard SF side.
About half the cast of DRY WATER is dead, but for the magical protagonists of the book that's a fairly trivial distinction. Larry is alive, as are the opposed Nick and Raja, though they are both on their umpteenth bodies. Palomana, the girl that runs the Silver Dollar tavern, is very much alive, though Larry's recent breakup with his longtime girlfriend, Linda, leaves him confused and conflicted about that. As does most everything that happens to him. For the first half of the book, dazed and confused are states he knows all too well. You've got to feel for him - he doesn't even like Fantasy, and now he's living it. A life is harder to put down than a book.
Tossed into the middle of the book is a fair amount of Alternate History as each of the central characters dip into the stream of all the lives ever lived to preserve or change the world according to their desires. Nick has spent lifetimes chasing down the Hitlers and Alexanders of time, always arriving too late to stop them, and tainting his efforts by the nature of his power - the art of death. Raja too has pursued change through history, seeking to bring back the pre-industrial world and the magics of fairies. Larry steps onto the stage without a clue, but soon his vision shows him the destruction of everything he knows should either Nick or Raja persevere. With the help of a long dead Navajo shaman, and the earth bound spirit of a desperado, he has to find "the water that can't be drunk" and learn how to use it.
Eric Nylund covers a lot of ground, most of it fantastic, and winds up somewhere I didn't quite expect. It's not too hard to imagine that he has mined his own life for the nuggets of reality around which he weaves this tale. The good news is that this gives it enough common ground to sustain and intrigue me.
I recommend it, and look forward to his next book to see how he continues to develop as an author. (His next book isSIGNAL TO NOISE, also reviewed in this issue.)
ISBN 0-312-86584-8 (pb) / Tor Trade Mar 1998/ Review by Bob Devney
John Kessel knows that a good time travel story brings the past to life. CORRUPTING DR. NICE does that brilliantly, starting with early scenes of a hotel-room seduction in 1793 Paris, a pleasant evening's dinosaur-gazing at a Cretaceous lakeside, a dinner dance at the 1st century palace of Herod the Great.
But when you mine the past, do the people who live there get the shaft? That's the question that gives Kessel's excellent satirical novel its serious edge. Because make no mistake: this is a work with serious points to make about cross-cultural contamination.
It's also the funniest SF book of the year: The author proves quite expert at mining the past himself. Acknowledging his inspirations (OK, blatant steals), the book is dedicated to great Golden Age Hollywood directors of romantic screwball comedies -- like Preston Sturges, whose 1941 masterpiece THE LADY EVE gives CORRUPTING DR. NICE its "rich naive boy-scientist meets poor clever con-girl" plot.
The boy is young Dr. Owen Beresford Vannice -- "Dr. Nice" -- the hapless paleontologist son of multitrillionaire parents. The girl is Genevieve Faison, aka Emma Zume, aka Eve Sedgwick, with her fraudulent father an expert in the long and short cons.
She targets the good Doctor for a plucking, but soon is chickening out. Does she love him after all? Con it be?
Their romance plays itself out from a blues nightclub in Roman Jerusalem to a courtroom in corporate-owned 2060s Manhattan where public opinions on the defendant's guilt, innocence, and sex appeal are wired directly into the presiding computer's judgment program.(In Kessel's futurian society, it seems, government and law have been supplanted by commerce and the media. Even more than now, I mean ...)
I haven't even mentioned other important characters, like Simon the Zealot: apostle, revolutionary, hotel janitor. Wilma the baby apatosaur, who can eat a hotel room overnight. Or my favorite, Bill the AIde: a paranoid bodyguard implanted in Owen's mind who's always trying to take control of "their" body to kung-fu suspicious-looking Girl Scouts. Nor have we discussed the sly SF in-jokes about everything from the Statue of Liberty Mom in James Patrick Kelly's "Mr. Boy" to Robert A. Heinlein's fantasy life. (OK, I'll just say that a "Heinleinian" here is a time-traveler whose pet perversion is sleeping with his ancestors.)
CORRUPTING DR. NICE didn't make the award ballots this year, despite rave reviews. That's sad. Much so-called satire, especially SF satire, isn't really funny. It wants to make you think, thus seriously interfering with the laugh reflex. But here, I LOL'd numerous times, and also actually thought deep thoughts ... about death and culture and time. Kessel manages both comedy and tragedy. Do you know how hard that is to do?
He makes even his temporal science look easy. The book explains that adjoining instants in time have entirely separate futures, each unaffected by visitors next door. Why? Because time is "a quantum gas."
So is this funny, thoughtful book.
Halfway Human by Carolyn Ives Gilman
ISBN 0-380-79799-2 / Avon Books Paperback February 1998 / Review by EJ McClure
Gilman's first novel, HALFWAY HUMAN, is an illuminating foray into the labyrinth of identity, gender roles, and culture. The protagonist, Tedla, is a young, beautiful blond androgyn, a member of the neuter servant caste on Gammadis. Tedla's accidental champion, Val, has troubles enough without taking on the Gammadians. Though a well-educated magister, a member of Capella's intellectual elite, Val is dithering on the verge of poverty and disillusionment. It seems that the only way she can provide security for her partner and their daughter is to give up her prized intellectual freedom and sign her future copyrights and patents over to one of the large info-companies.
The chance to secretly interview Tedla, to gather new data on a reclusive culture and perhaps even to establish her independent reputation as a xenologist, proves too tempting to resist, and Val goes to the clinic where Tedla is recovering from a botched suicide attempt. Despite her attempt to maintain academic objectivity, Val finds her sympathy engaged by the intriguing alien. Soon she is caught up in the politics of information, a deadly game in which Tedla is a pawn. Tedla's memories are both coveted and feared by the Capellan corporation that sponsored the first expedition to Gammadis, and the Gammadians, whose shameful secrets were exposed by the relentless curiosity of the disreputable Magister Galele, Tedla's Capellan mentor.
The book is skillfully constructed, the obvious product of many thoughtful rewrites. It shuttles seamlessly between the present-day intrigue on Capella, and Tedla's narrative. Born into a utopian society without war, government, personal property, or even families, Tedla begins life as an asexual proto-human in a crèche. Unfortunately for Tedla, the coming of age ceremony culminated not in adulthood as a male or female human, but in condemnation to "grayspace" as a bland, one of the despised but essential underlings that labor to provide the rest of Gammadian society with the comfortable and harmonious lifestyle which they enjoyed until the arrival of the Cappellan exploration team.
Grim loss of innocence follows hard on the heels of Tedla's loss of humanity, and Tedla learns how to survive through submission. But fate does not allow Tedla to surrender; redemption, love, loss and wrenching betrayal await the young bland. Taken finally into service as Personal to Squire Tellegen, Tedla meets Magister Galele, the charming and eccentric Cappellan scientist who visits the aging squire in his self-imposed exile from the Gammadian society he once led. Galele is irresistibly drawn to the puzzle and challenge presented by the blands, Tedla in particular, for twisted reasons revealed only near the end of the story. Squire Tellegen is also drawn to Tedla, his own Pygmalion creation--the bland who thinks and reasons as a human. The bland who is loved and loves in return, in secret defiance of the rigid Gammadian social codes that forbid relationships between humans and blands. The explosive culmination of Tedla's love and Galilee's insatiable curiosity brings a world to the brink of chaos.
HALFWAY HUMAN is an intriguing exploration of the nature of humanity. It is a novel of social science, rather than physical science, evoking more Le Guin than Niven. Both the Capellan and Gammadian societies are carefully and knowledgeably constructed. Even the minor characters are skillfully detailed and consistent, the product of the author's keen insight into the flaws and self-deceptions of human nature. Though at times obvious in its social message, there are enough twists and surprises in Tedla's story to hold Val captive to the end. The satisfying conclusion affirms the value of love, the cost of being human, and the peril of being alien to our own nature.
ISBN 0-345-4213-96 / Del Rey Paperback, 629 pg Jan '98 / Review by Asta
Earth's vulnerability to Asteroid impact has been a durable sub-genre ever since Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer penned WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (1932). It's been one of Clarke's favorite themes, and even if we are due for a near miss in space, Asteroid impacts will continue to slam into movie theaters this summer with DEEP IMPACT soon to be followed by ARMEGEDEON. Here's a look at one of the genre's more popular works. - Ern
Tim Hamner's got it all. He's the heir to the Kalva Soap fortune, handsome, and has just discovered a new comet. Enter Harv Randall, who agrees to do a documentary based on the celestial object which will be subsidized by Kalva Soap. After his interview with Harv for the documentary, Dr. Charlie Sharps from JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratories) tries to get a shuttle launched to study the comet up close. How? By persuading Senator Jellison of California, who is coincidentally on the Finance Subcommittee for Science and Astronautics, that the Russians will send one up first. What do all these people have in common? They're all from California and when Tim Hamner's comet hits, all of them, along with a host of minor characters from the novel, will survive. The only question is for how long?
At first, people were excited about the news of a new object in space, but that emotion soon turns to fear when it is realized that the comet might actually hit the Earth. A mad scramble ensued for everyone to get out of the San Joaquin Valley and head for the hills of California so they won't be drowned by the ensuing tsunami. The book follows each character as they make their own preparations for survival after "Hammerfall". The second half of the book deals with how everyone groups together out of necessity to find a way to survive.
The political situation before and after "Hammerfall" is quite interesting. In the face of a new world order, government has been backed up and parked into a society that is reminiscent of the early feudal structure of Western Europe. Half of the characters end up at Senator Jellison's ranch in Silver Valley, and it soon becomes an enclave of farmers ruled by the statesman. Together, they try to uphold civilization as much as possible for as long as possible. The other half of the characters are eventually absorbed into the New Brotherhood Army and soon turn to cannibalism for survival, the strong feeding on the weak. Their mission, according to an insane preacher, is to do God's work and destroy any remaining shreds of technology. He reasons that they were 'saved' to ensure that mankind would return to living as close to God as possible. These two groups make a striking contrast for one is trying to uphold the remnants of civilization, the other trying to destroy it.
One of the characters who survives the Hammerfall is Harry Newcombe. He is a mailman in Senator Jellison's Silver Valley who decides that even though there is no more USPS, he's going to follow through with something for the first time in his life and deliver the rest of his mail. While doing so, he becomes the self appointed courier for the area surrounding the valley. There are so many similarities between LUCIFER'S HAMMER and David Brin's THE POSTMAN, that I began to wonder where Brin got his inspiration from. The main difference is that Brin's novel starts sixteen years after the apocalypse, and the character becomes a postman by a fateful accident. However, both men spend a night snuggled up next to sacks of mail in an overturned jeep, and the similarities just start there...
LUCIFER'S HAMMER was originally published in 1977 and its re-release seems to coincide with the spate of meteorite movies that will be hitting theaters this summer. The dramatis personae list in the front of the novel was helpful to the point of being necessary, for the book has as many plot lines as a soap opera, all of which overlap at different times.
Nonetheless, the novel convinced me by being very well researched and knowledgeable, for anyone that realizes how much JPL contributes to the NASA program has to have done some homework! There were, of course, differences in perspective because the book was written 20 years ago, when there was still a Soviet Union. Today it reads more like Alternate History, but when it was originally written, it was probably viewed as a contemporary novel. However, the time and culture differences were only noticeable while there was still a modern civilization to describe, for the sections about surviving in a postapocalyptic world are timeless.
All in all, this book was well written and readers familiar with the epic style of Larry Niven or his collaborations with Jerry Pournelle through other works will be more than satisfied with reading (or rereading) LUCIFER'S HAMMER.
ISBN 0-380-79297 / Avon Trade May '98 - Hrdcvr June '97 / Review by Ernest Lilley
John Cramer's second book snuck up on me. It bills itself on the cover as a novel of hard Science Fiction, and that's just the way I like my SF, so I picked it up. For a ways into the book that hardness translates into a story constructed much like a good martini...the finest gin chilled and tainted with the merest hint of vermouth. Dry? Extremely. Hard SF? Supercarbon. Then I came to the olive. Who expected a compelling plot and good characters? Author, I think I'll have another.
John Cramer is a working physicist, that class of Hard SF author that writes science from the inside out. I have to go back and read Twistor, his first book, to see if it was nearly as good as EINSTEIN'S BRIDGE. One can only hope. Comparisons to the best of Gregory Benford, Robert Forward, and James Hogan are in order. If John Cramer can maintain the quality of his work, he will more than give them a run for their money.
The story centers around the fate of the universe and the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) that has been on the drawing board through the past two presidential administrations. As the story starts out, a hive intelligence in another universe becomes aware of the ultra-high energy emissions from the SSC and starts making plans for constructing a wormhole (specifically an Einstein-Rosen Bridge) between the two universes and taking over. The Hive excels at displacing everything in its way and has destroyed a number of young races/universes already. To its confusion it's been getting harder and harder lately to take over universes. That difficulty is supplied by another universe's inhabitants who are determined to cherish new intelligence when they find it and protect it from the Hive's destruction. Much of the book is a race between two universes, one bent on destruction, and the other the preservation of mankind. The best part comes in a desperate effort by the human protagonists to save our universe, after its destruction.
Alice Lang, an upcoming disaster novelist, decides to get inside the SSC posing as a science reporter to research her latest novel about giant mutant fire ants caused by the project. The author treats even this part well, and we develop respect and affection for Alice as she finds herself in the middle of a bigger disaster than even she can imagine. And she can imagine a lot. She also finds herself in love with George Griffin, a high energy physicist who will find himself drawn into the conflict between universes and ultimately stand as the last line of defense against annihilation. The characters are engaging and extremely well conceived. Given his day job at CERN the major European center for high energy physics, it's hardly surprising that he knows what makes scientists tick, but John Cramer shows an adroit understanding of politics, business, publishing, and media as well.
Sadly, the role of hard SF in the 90's is largely to lament the failure of initiative and public will to push science forward. From the space program to high energy physics, the country has consistently backed away from the very kinds of research that fueled the current technological boom. Where will the next boom come from? We may not know, and EINSTEIN'S BRIDGE doesn't quite tell us, but the author clearly suggests that, to paraphrase a popular science disaster novelist, Science will find a way.
ISBN 0-671-87769-0 / Baen Paperback Apr '98 - Hrdcvr Mar '97/ Review by Ernest Lilley
Lt. Esmay Suiza was well on her way to the quiet military career she wanted. Then events got out of hand. Still, after leading a mutiny to stop her captain from turning the R.S.S Despite over to the barbarian Bloodhorde, taking command as the surviving ranking officer and getting in the decisive shot in a desperate space battle against superior odds, one would think Lt. Esmay Suiza would be ready for a rest, but rest is the last thing she wants. Sleep is when the nightmares that drove her into the service and away from her planetary military family come to haunt her, now more than ever. Fortunately, the service has no plans for respite. Not until they get the court-martial proceedings out of the way, at least. Then it will be up to her to draw trouble. Fortunately for the reader, that is something she excels in, and when the Deep Space Repair Ship she is assigned to comes under attack from within and without, Esmay discovers that once a hero
Elizabeth Moons experience in the Marines serves her in good stead in this portrayal of the Space Navy defending the frontier worlds in another installment of the Heris Serrano series. Though her word resonates with echoes from other military SF authors creations, from the Dorsai and Barrayarans to RAHs Starship Troopers, her take on the workings of the military machinery is telling in its accuracy and originality.
Its Space Opera Action Adventure Science Fiction with a gender twist, and true, the author has packed the action in for our entertainment, somewhat at a loss of credibility. I only wish that she could have taken more time with the character development, say 5 or 6 books. Time and Space War wait for no one, and Lt. Esmay Suiza covers a lot of ground in the books 400 pages. Clearly she finds it easier to survive all out Space battles than the social intricacies of military life or the buried trauma of her own childhood. However the author lets her off the hook for none of it, and both the external and internal conflicts provide an excellent balance. The psychological conflict that the character goes through elevates this from just another well done Space Opera to Something Worth Thinking About. Its always the quiet ones that surprise us...
ISBN 0-553-37871-6 / Bantam Spectra Paperback May '98 - May '97 / Review by Ernest Lilley
"Wyrm is a hugely enjoyable book. All hackers should have this book; so should anyone interested in artificial intelligence, the Internet, computer viruses, role-playing games, mythology, science fiction, Lewis Carroll or Monty Python. Anyone not in this group has my sympathies." - Charles Sheffield
WYRM is a thoroughly well written book with an intelligent premise and interesting and well constructed characters. It shows that good reading and techno-fiction need not be strangers. The characters author Mark Fabi creates provide a storyline that balances a well thought out whodunit with viruses, artificial intelligence, the Internet, and everything.
WYRM arrived on my doorstep the day that IBM's Big Blue chess program took on the world of Chess Masters once again in late April '97. Intentional or not, it couldn't have been better timing, as the story starts with Michael Arcangelo, freelance virus hunter, being called in to debug a chess program running against a grand master in a competition. The program wins against all comers, which is not the point of the story, but that the program seems to be getting better and better and that the virus that infected it can't be found is.
Along the way Michael hooks up with Al, short for Alice, another virus hunter at the chess match. Though a professional virus buster in her own right, Al is less at home in the world of hackers and computer desperadoes and thereby manages to serve a number of useful functions in the story. First as an everyman character to help make sense of the story for the geek-challenged and second as Michael's girlfriend to warm up the human side. I enjoyed both equally, and had to keep going to find out what would happen next.
WYRM takes place all over the real world, and extensively in the online world of MUDs (Multi User Dungeons - role playing games) as the virus hunters follow clues to uncover the aims and origins of the Wyrm, a self aware virus that eats other viruses for breakfast and is in the operating system of every major computer in the world.
In his examination of the computer virus, the author throws a number of interesting concepts our way. Including the idea that information viruses may have been around much longer than computers, growing, breeding and fighting for space in the human consciousness or in societies. If the human mind is a biocomputer, what does a biocomputer virus look like? Can a biocomputer virus infect an electronic computer? WYRM posed questions that left me thinking about them long after the book was finished.
Mark Fabi is a psychiatrist when he's not writing fiction, or maybe even when he is, and his knowledge of Jungian and Freudian concepts adds to the rich tapestry he's woven. Add WYRM to the annals of important cyber fiction along with books like TRUE NAMES and SNOWCRASH.SFRevu.)
BEST NOVEL -*FOREVER PEACE by *Joe Haldeman (Ace) / FRAMESHIFT by *Robert J. Sawyer (Tor) / THE RISE OF ENDYMION by Dan Simmons (Bantam Spectra) / *JACK FAUST by *Michael Swanwick (Avon) / CITY ON FIRE by Walter Jon Williams (HarperPrism)
BEST NOVELLA -"The Funeral March of the Marionettes" by Adam-Troy Castro (F&SF July 1997) / "Ecopoeisis" by Geoffrey A. Landis (SF AGE May 1997) / "Loose Ends" by Paul Levinson (ANALOG May 1997) / "Marrow" by Robert Reed (SF AGE July 1997) / "...Where Angels Fear To Tread" by *Allen Steele (ASIMOV'S October-November 1997)
BEST NOVELETTE -"Moon Six" by Stephen Baxter (SF AGE March 1997) / "Broken Symmetry" by Michael A. Burstein (ANALOG February 1997) / "Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream" by James Alan Gardner / (ASIMOV'S February 1997) / "We Will Drink A Fish Together..." by Bill Johnson (ASIMOV'S May 1997) / "The Undiscovered" by William Sanders (ASIMOV'S March 1997)
BEST SHORT STORY -"Beluthahatchie" by Andy Duncan (ASIMOV'S March 1997) / "Standing Room Only" by Karen Joy Fowler (ASIMOV'S August 1997) / "Itsy Bitsy Spider" by James Patrick Kelly (ASIMOV'S June 1997) / "The 43 Antarean Dynasties" by Mike Resnick (ASIMOV'S December 1997) / "The Hand You're Dealt" by *Robert J. Sawyer (FREE SPACE, Tor) / "No Planets Strike" by Gene Wolfe (F&SF January 1997)
BEST RELATED BOOK -SPACE TRAVEL by Ben Bova with Anthony R. Lewis (Writer's Digest Books) / THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FANTASY edited by John Clute / & John Grant (St. Martin's Press) / INFINITE WORLDS by Vincent DiFate (Penguin Studio) / SPECTRUM IV: THE BEST IN CONTEMPORARY FANTASTIC ART edited by Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner with Jim Loehr (Underwood Books) / REFLECTIONS AND REFRACTIONS: THOUGHTS ON SCIENCE-FICTION, SCIENCE AND OTHER MATTERS by Robert Silverberg (Underwood Books)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION -CONTACT / THE FIFTH ELEMENT / GATTACA / MEN IN BLACK / STARSHIP TROOPERS
BEST PROFESSIONAL EDITOR -Gardner Dozois (ASIMOV'S) / Scott Edelman (SF AGE) / David Hartwell (Tor; YEAR'S BEST SF) / Stanley Schmidt (ANALOG) / Gordon Van Gelder (F&SF)
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST -Jim Burns / Thomas Canty / David Cherry / Bob Eggleton / Don Maitz / Michael Whelan
BEST SEMIPROZINE -INTERZONE edited by David Pringle / LOCUS edited by Charles N. Brown / THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION edited by Kathryn Cramer, Ariel Hamion, David G. Hartwell & Kevin Maroney / SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE edited by Andrew I. Porter / SPECULATIONS edited by Kent Brewster
BEST FANZINE -ANSIBLE edited by Dave Langford / ATTITUDE edited by Michael Abbott, John Dallman & Pam Wells / FILE 770 edited by Mike Glyer / MIMOSA edited by Nicki & Richard Lynch / TANGENT edited by David Truesdale
BEST FAN WRITER -*Bob Devney / Mike Glyer / Andy Hooper / David Langford / Evelyn Leeper / Joseph T. Major
BEST FAN ARTIST -Brad Foster / Ian Gunn / Teddy Harvia / Joe Mayhew / Peggy Ranson
JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER OF 1996 OR 1997 (not a Hugo, Sponsored by Dell Magazines) -Raphael Carter (2nd year of eligibility) / Andy Duncan (2nd year of eligibility) / Richard Garfinkle (2nd year of eligibility) / Susan R. Matthews (2nd year of eligibility) / *Mary Doria Russell (2nd year of eligibility)
May 1-3 Disclave '98:CANCELLED SF Washington, DC - http://www.wsfa.org/
May 1-3 - RocKon 22: SF Little Rock, AR
May 1-3 - Demicon 9: SF Des Moines
May 7-10 - World Horror Con 1998: Horror Phoeniz
May 15-17, 1998 - Conduit Science Fiction Convention: Salt Lake City, Utah.
May 15-17 - KeyCon: 15 | USA Winnipeg-based sf con
May 15-17 - CONduit: (The Pirates of CONduit) | USA Salt Lake City-based sf con
May 15-17 - Leprecon: Arizona-based sf con
May 15-17 - Conduit 8: Salt Lake City, UT
May 15-17 - Keycon 15: Winnipeg, MB
May 15-17 - V-Con 23: Vancouver, BC
May 22-24 - ConQuesT 29: Kansas City-based sf con
May 22-24 - MediaWest*Con 18: Lansing-based sf con
May 22-24 - Agamemcon II: Los Angeles, CA
May 22-24 - ConQuest: Kansas City, MO
May 22-24 - LibertyCon 12: Chattanooga, TN
May 22-24 - Miscon: Missoula, MT
May 22-25 - BayCon: San Francisco, CA
May 22-25 - Wiscon 22: Madison, WI - Feminist SF
June 5-7 - Astra 18: SF Toronto, ON
June 5-7 - JurassiCon: SF dinosaurs Atlanta, GA
June 5-7 - Tachy9Con: Media/Orlando, FL
June 5-8 - Thyalacon: Australia It's the big one; the Australian national SF con
June 12-14 - B'hamacon 4/DeepSouthCon 36: Birmingham-based double sf fun
June 12-14 - DucKon VII: SF Chicago, IL
June 12-14 - DeepSouthCon 36/B'hamacon 4: SF Birmingham, AL
June 26-28 - Confuse: Sweden Linkoping-based nordic sf
June 26-28 - Shore Leave: Maryland-based sf and fantasy con
June 26-28 - Conestoga 98: Tulsa, OK
June 26-28 - Midwestcon: Cincinatti, OH
July 10-12 - Readercon 10: Guest of Honor: Bruce Sterling, Lisa Goldstein Location: Westborough, Massachusettshttp://www.mit.edu/~zeno/readercon.html
August 5-9 - WorldCon 1998 BucConeer: Guests of Honor: C.J. Cherryh, Milton A. Rothman, Stanley Schmidt, Michael Whelan; Toastmaster Charles Sheffield Special Guest J. Michael Straczynski / Location: Baltimore, Marylandhttp://www.bucconeer.worldcon.org/
Next Month in SFRevu - Miles, Monsters and Mayhem! Miles Vorkosigan turns over a new leaf investigating sabotage on KOMARR in Lois Bujold's latest book and we have an interview with the author as well. Earth gets struck by an Asteroid in DEEP IMPACT and GODZILLA takes a bite out of the Big Apple. David Drake and Billie Sue Mosiman host an even dozen ends of the world in ARMAGEDDON, and Niven edits THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WARS for his scream and leap ratcat friends. We should be getting combat pay! There's also a Turtledove interview, more books than I have reviewers for and Sawicki's video collection! I wish it were next month already!
Among the titles we're considering... A Chill in the Blood - P.N. Elrod / Armageddon - David Drake and Billie Sue Mosiman / The Best of all Possible Wars - Larry Niven / The Blackgod - J. Gregory Keyes / Bug Park - James P. Hogan / Challenges: Book 3 of The Blending - Sharon Green / Daughter of Troy - Sarah B. Franklin / Fiddler Fair - Mercedes Lackey / Fire Watch - Connie Willis / I, Jedi - Michael A. Stackpole / In the Rift - Marion Zimmer Bradley & Holly Lisle / Komarr - Lois McMaster Bujold / Newton's Cannon - J. Gregory Keyes / The Official Godzilla Compendium - Lees/Ceranini / Starswarm - Jerry Pournelle / Star Child - James P. Hogan / The Heritage Trilogy: Book 1 - Semper Mars - Ian Douglas / The War God's Own - David Weber / The White Order - L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
If you want to join the SFRevu crew I'm looking for a few wired writers to add to our ranks. Let me know if you'd like to enlist. Tell me what your point of view is and who you like to read. Include titles from our next month list that interest you. All submissions become the property of SFRevu. Contact:SFRevu@aol.com
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