Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Mon Sep 17 12:32:37 EDT 1990

Raymond's Reviews #88

%T The Fifth Book of Lost Swords: Coinspinner's Story
%A Fred Saberhagen
%I TOR Fantasy
%D September 1990
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 245
%G 0-812-55286-5

Regular readers of this column will know that I am no great fan of the interminable formula-fantasy series that clog chain-store bookshelves everywhere, and might wonder why I'm bothering with any book with a title like this one. Well, the simple fact is that I think Fred Saberhagen writes a damn good story. The lucid clarity of his prose, sinewy plotting and vividly-realized details of his worlds make for dependable entertainment every time. Not for Saberhagen the demonized archetypal villains, over-ornate styling and flat characters of so many of his competitors; everything in his milieux has a depth and solidity that breathes new life into what ought to be the most formulaic ideas. Enjoy! -- but 'ware the set-up for the next book at the end.

%T Wild Card's VII: Dead Man's Hand
%A George R. R. Martin & John J. Miller
%I Bantam Spectra
%D September 1990
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 328
%G 0-553-28569-6

Despite its grand-guignol excesses, the Wild Cards books are still the best shared-world series I've read anything of. This novel interlocks with Book VI, as Popinjay and the Yeoman team up to solve the brutal murder of Chrysalis. In the ensuing mayhem, one truly major badguy bites the dust -- but the identity and motive of the murderer is the real surprise.

%T Enemy Unseen (Star Trek #51)
%A V. E. Mitchell
%I Pocket Books
%D September 1990
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 279
%G 0-671-68403-5

Well, Mitchell isn't Diane Duane but this particular bit of trekfic is a big improvement on the last one I reviewed (RR#86) -- it's at least not embarrassingly bad. A routine diplomatic mission goes awry as Kirk must deal with a conniving ex-girlfriend and an alien shapeshifter, both bent on disrupting negotiations. A pleasant, lightweight read-once for trekfans.

%T The Whole Man
%A John Brunner
%I: Collier Nucleus
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 188
%G 0-02-030275-4

This reprint of Brunner's groundbreaking 1964 novel has dated not at all; indeed, his portrayal of a world of local uprisings and low-intensity wars pacified by multinational forces of U.N. troops seems more plausible in today's post-perestroika world than it could have at the height of the Cold War. He gives us the story of the crippled perojective telepath Gerald Howson. He begins life as an orphaned hemophiliac leading a cheerless and impoverished existence, relieved only by his fantasies of becoming one of the U.N.'s idealized telepathist heroes. When the fantasy comes true he plunges himself into the work of healing diseased minds; but his own inner conflict remains unresolved, and he is tempted to retreat into a world of fantasies reflected off the minds of others. He eventually finds a chance for wholeness through the creation of a new art form, in a resolution which stirs as much for its affirmation of the moral value of human creativity as for the prospect of a happy ending. Treat yourself to this one!

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Mon Sep 17 12:32:37 EDT 1990

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