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© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
Editor:  Ernest Lilley
Associate Editor: Sharon Archer

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Aug02 Contents
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Columns:
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Events/Cons:
CanVention 22 and the Aurora Awards
If It's Tuesday, this must be TOR

Feature Interview:
Ken Macleod

Feature Review: Cosmonaut Keep by Ken Macleod

BBook Reviews
The Alchemists Door
by Lisa Goldstein
Alternate Generals
ed by Harry Turtledove
Argonaut by Stanley Schmidt
Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks
The Iron Grail by John Woodstock
The Sacred Pool by L. Warren Douglas
The Sky So Big And Black by John Barnes
Spaceland by Rudy Rucker
Straw Men by
Michael Marshall Smith
Sisters of the Raven by Barbara Hambly
To Trade The Stars by Julie E. Czerneda
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror
, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Graphic Novel:
Murder Mysteries. Original short story and radio play by Neil Gaiman. Graphic story script and art by P. Craig Russell
Zine: The Journal of Pulse Pounding Narratives

SFMedia:
Film:
Austin Powers: GoldMember

Metropolis (2002) Restoration
& Metropolis Essay
PowerPuff Girls
Reign of Fire
Signs
Simone

 

To Trade the Stars by Julie E. Czerneda 
DAW Books; ISBN: 0756400759 
1st edition Mass Market Paperback (June 2002)
Review by Asta Sinusas
496 pages List price $6.99  Purchase this book at Amazon.com

What an enjoyable novel! If you’ve had enough of science fiction writers, trying to be clever and narrating what will happen to society if a small twist occurs (as I temporarily was), then this is definitely what the doctor ordered. 

Oh, the novel still has enough going on that you won’t be bored, but the focus is on the adventure and not the whys and wherefores. It’s a space adventure with aliens and a bit of mystery and romance added for good measure and I’m glad. In a way, I’m also relieved that I haven’t read the first two novels in the Trade Pact Universe trilogy. I can find out how the story started with just a quick trip to the bookstore. There’s no indeterminate number of years as I await the next installment, like those who began with One Thousand Words for a Stranger in 1997, or Ties of Power in 1999 and had to wait anxiously. 

To sum up what I gleaned, members of the Clan are telepathic and communicate through the M’hir. They can make objects appear and disappear into that realm or teleport themselves from one planet to another. In the beginning of  To Trade the Stars, Sira is Joined to Jason Morgan, a Human. Sira’s Talent as a telepath is of legendary proportions. However, Sira’s got a few holes in her memory because her daring interspecies Joining was the first of its kind, and a bit traumatic. Jason has his own conflict, and wants revenge on Ren Symon an old friend who has turned into a hated enemy. Add in a little intergalactic politics, as well as a few friends of different species and the turmoil deepens. (My guilty pleasure was the Claws and Jaws restaurant, though.) 

Comparisons to Star Wars come to mind – Sira is a wise female in a diplomatic role (like Princess Leia) and her husband is a trader with a spaceship (like Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon). Combine that with a showdown on a desert planet (Tatooine) and the likeness continues. However, to perform a strict comparison would not do justice to the novel. Lucas might have his mythic elements, but Czerneda has her craft and writer’s techniques to lift her work up from the ordinary. 

There are writers choose not to develop their characters and you can tell they just insert a hero or villain where appropriate. However, Czerneda has created a cast and that gives the story an added depth. Not only that, I chortled at the frustrations the characters suffered. Every time they were close to achieving their goal, Czerneda would prevent them from achievement and I felt giddy and uttered a mental “take that” to the good guys. Another evidence of craft was the way Czerneda would end a chapter with a thematic element or quote, with one set of characters. Then she would pick up the same element or reverse it in the next chapter with another set of characters that were struggling with a different battle across the universe. This wove the fabric of the different scenarios closer together. 

The last thing I noticed (and maybe I’m analyzing too closely) was a peculiar passage. “The Clan who remained there [on Acranam] still preferred an ofttimes paralyzing form of group consensus. As a result, they were agonizingly slow making decisions; once decided they could be frustratingly stubborn.” I just found the comment close to how Canadians sometimes view the American political structure, as careful compromise can seem agonizing in comparison to swift decisions by the party in power. 

I was recently exposed to Czerneda with her series of children’s sci fi anthologies from Trifolium that were constructed as part of a teaching resource for the classroom. Now to see her power as a writer of adult science fiction, my respect for her has doubled. Again, To Trade the Stars is a thoroughly enjoyable novel and I certainly wouldn’t trade any stars for my copy.