Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Sun Jun 09 23:14:47 EDT 1991

Raymond's Reviews #102

I've been busy with my own book for months now, but I'm finally out from under and Raymond's Reviews will start appearing regularly once again -- but mostly short takes until I catch up. This is January releases #1.

%T Eight Skilled Gentlemen
%A Barry Hughart
%I Doubleday
%D Jan 1991
%O trade paperback, US$10.95
%P 255
%G 0-385-41710-1

Barry Hughart does it again in this sequel to Bridge Of Birds and The Story Of The Stone, giving us an utterly delightful mix of comedy, orientalia, high fantasy and murder mystery as Master Li and Number Ten Ox struggle to solve a series of gruesome murders in the Forbidden City of Peking, circa A.D. 650. If you haven't read these books, run -- do not walk -- to your nearest bookstore and get them. Just the first scene, set at a public execution that turns into a mad cross between a Lovecraft scenario and a Marx Brothers movie, is worth the price of admission by itself.

%T Summertide
%A Charles Sheffield
%I DelRey
%D Jan 1991
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 281
%G 0-345-36937-8

This is volume one of "The Heritage Universe", a tasty space opera for sophisticates that looks like it's set to wring some new life from the SF cliche of a vanished forerunner race of Builders. Their huge, incomprehensible artifacts, salted throughout the Spiral Arm, have begun changing in inexplicable ways. To those few who can see the pattern, the focus of this activity is the otherwise unexceptional double planet of Opal and Quake, about to undergo a harrowing periastron passage called Summertide. Specialists from throughout known space are converging there in search of insights into the nature and fantastic technologies of the Builders. The expectable intrigues and dramas ensue, all competently written, but the real interest is the puzzle Sheffield is sending us. I'll look forward to the next book.

%T Nicoji
%A M. Shayne Bell
%I Baen
%D January 1991
%O paperback, US$3.95
%P 243
%G 0-671-72034-1

Orson Scott Card loves this novel, but I can't for the life of me figure out why. It's a painfully obvious take on H. Beam Piper's Fuzzy Papers, complete with cute fuzzy exploited aliens talking in a language humans can't hear. Bleagh. Avoid.

%T Conan the Guardian
%A Roland Green
%D January 1991
%O paperback, US$3.95
%P 280
%G 0-812-50961-7

Ho-hum. More routine hack-and-slash. I must admit to liking Green's version of Conan better than most, though, as he actually shows some glimmerings of intelligence once in a while. More than anything else, though, this makes me wonder when the #@&$ Wandor's Battle is finally coming out...

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Sun Jun 09 23:14:47 EDT 1991

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