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Raymond's Reviews #75

%T The Death of Sleep
%A Anne McCaffrey and Jody Lynne Nye
%I Baen
%D July 1990
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 390
%G 0-671-69884-2

This novel is a prequel to Sassinak (RR#21), set in Anne McCaffrey's "Dinosaur Planet" universe. It is notable for two unusual traits. One is that it's better written than its predecessor. Two is that the back-cover blurb tells an outright lie about the plot.

Yes, it's true. The back cover blurb has poor Lunzie Mespill, the heroine, forced into cold sleep of unanticipated length by a pirate attack. This is not what happens in the text; instead, Lunzie's long sleep is forced when the craft she's on plays involuntary bumper cars in one of those famous flying-avalanche asteroid belts so beloved of astronomically ignorant writers. One big, wet raspberry to the editorial dept. at Baen. Have they sunk so low that they don't even bother reading the books before they blurb them? Sheesh!

The stupid bloody asteroid belt isn't the only howler in this book, by the way. A throwaway line on page 60 reveals that the computers of 2800 AD have fewer K per user of accessible store than a low-end IBM PC today. Gonnngggg...

Oh well. Lunzie, expecting she'll have been rescued within weeks, is more than a little shocked to discover that she's slipped sixty-two years when awakened. The 14-year-old daughter she'd left at home is in late middle age as their culture reckons such things (typical lifespan is, we are told, c.120 standard years). Lunzie's M.D. is obsolete. She is adrift in time.

The book begins the story of the new life she fashions for herself, and how she gets involved with Fleet Intelligence and enters the Great Game against the planet pirates. It's better than Sassinak because it's focussed on a more believable character, doing things it is easier to believe in context. The prose takes time to build pictures, rather than hurling the reader through a lot of thinly described action at warp speed.

And, yes, Lunzie does wind up on Ireta all set to hook up with Sassinak. The next book will probably pick up where Sassinak and The Death Of Sleep left off. Maybe with a third collaborator?

Fans of McCaffrey or military/adventure SF might enjoy this book. It hit my "To Sell" box at high velocity, but I'm heartened at the improvement it represents over Sassinak. At this rate the third book might actually be good enough to keep.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Fri Jun 22 13:05:55 EDT 1990

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