Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Wed Sep 05 18:49:56 EDT 1990

Raymond's Reviews #78

I'm going to be doing lots of short takes for a while to catch up with summer stuff that came out either during my August vacation or the deadline crunch before it...here are the July releases I didn't get to before.

%T Kaduna Memories
%A Jack McKinney
%I Ballantine/Del Rey
%D July 1990
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 249
%G 0-345-36579

An enjoyable if lightweight space opera with a bit of cyberpunk flavoring. A poor little rich girl hires small-time data-detective Felix McTurk to take on her guardian's megacorporation, seeking the truth about the death of her parents years before. And McTurk has his own grudges against Offworld Lifting and Development. What neither knows is that OLD's secret is First Contact...and that they'll kill to keep it. Quirky characters give this book most of its charm, though the AIs seem excessively humanlike.

%T A Key for the Nonesuch
%A Geary Gravel
%I Ballantine/Del Rey
%D July 1990
%O paperback, US$3.95
%P 229
%G 0-345-35976-3

Geary Gravel's earlier novels The Alchemists and The Pathfinders were ambitious, spectacular, philosophically involved constructions displaying lyric gifts reminiscent of Cordwainer Smith. With this one he seems to have set his sights lower, aiming at the SF/adventure market and producing something that rather recalls Jack Chalker's Well of Souls books. The result is certainly better executed than Chalker and pleasant enough on its own terms, but a bit of a disappointment otherwise; the gorgeousness and challenge of the earlier books is missing. And it appears that we're being set up for a series. Oh well. Buy it anyhow; keep Gravel writing. The chance that he might regain his earlier form is well worth it...

%T Soft and Others
%A F. Paul Wilson
%D July 1990
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 306
%G 0-812-50375-9

I can only review about half of this anthology, as I strongly dislike horror fiction and generally refuse to read it. The SF, however, is excellent, including the now-classic Lipidleggin' and To Fill The Sea And Air. Wilson's range and originality are impressive, even if his work does tend to an unfinished quality that suggests he still has some growing to do as a writer (often, the story sirtuations are too obviously set-pieces for a particular effect or moral and leave too little sense of connection to a wider reality). He seems to have intended this collection as a set of his journeyman pieces, and it's well worth having as a chronicle of authorial growth, especially if you like horror fiction.


The Hammer of the Sun (Michael Scott Rohan), Songs of the Dancing Gods (Jack Chalker). More ho-hum fantasy series books.

The Sand Wars #6: Challenge Met (Charles Ingrid). Low-rent space opera. "Jack Storm faces an impossible mission into the heart of enemy territory." Sheesh.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Wed Sep 05 18:49:56 EDT 1990

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