Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Fri Apr 27 19:57:17 EDT 1990

Raymond's Reviews #50

Today, a bouquet of four bombs for your reading displeasure...

%T The Steps of the Sun
%A Walter Tevis
%I Collier Nucleus
%D May 1990
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 251
%G 0-02-029865-X

Everybody's entitled to an off day sometimes, and by me this is the Collier Nucleus series's first failure of taste. Tevis manages to combine some of the worst cliches of space opera (the millionaire inventor who builds his own spaceship to go off and Save The World) with the most tiresome attributes of the mainstream "novel of character" (the protagonist's boringly predictable neuroses are the real subject of the text). This is literatus disease (see RR#36) on the hoof, not saved by Tevis's undoubted skill at prose construction and the few brief moments in which the world convinces.

%T Space Hawks
%A Sean Dalton
%I Berkeley/Ace
%D May 1989
%O paperback, US$3.50
%P 188
%G 0-441-77732-5

Bletch. This is the first book in a formulaic space-opera series of the most mindless sort, one that promises to be fully as wretched as DAW's "Cap Kennedy" books. I found it utterly unreadable, and suggest that it belongs at the bottom of the same toxic waste dump as Vardeman's Demon Crown books (see RR#44).

%T The Ransom of Black Stealth One
%A Dean Ing
%I TOR Books
%D April 1990
%O paperback, US$5.95
%P 471
%G 0-812-50857-2

Dean Ing has written some decent SF in the past. Sadly, in this venture into techno-thrillerdom the gadgets are the only things that work. This book is an old man's fantasy of regained youth (courtesy of an idealized Bright Young Thing the protagonist kidnaps who spends the rest of the novel throwing herself at him). It comes with a disturbing subtext of amorality and callousness and entirely too many `good guys' who betray and kill on orders or for a mean revenge...and too many bad guys right out of Central Casting for old-fashioned Russian heavies. The only good parts are the aerial chase scenes. If you must read those, wait till you can find this one used.

%T Spellbound
%A Ru Emerson
%I Ace Books
%D May 1990
%O paperback, US$5.95
%P 471
%G 0-441-77792-9

Sigh. Yet another wretched formula fantasy-romance for the teen market, replete with the usual glossy-carboard characters, melodramatic plot, and overwrought prose (there's even, can you believe it, an evil stepmother!). There's not a shred of originality or idea content anywhere to be found in this mess, nor much of anything else for that matter, but the way it's packaged and aimed just about guarantee that it'll move off the shelves anyhow. Oh, well, let's hope the sales from it will subsidize something more interesting.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Fri Apr 27 19:57:17 EDT 1990

Eric S. Raymond <esr@snark.thyrsus.com>