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Raymond's Reviews #103

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 #2.

%T The Black Throne
%A Roger Zelazny/Fred Saberhagen
%I Baen
%D October 1990
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 278
%G 0-671-72013-9

In "The Black Throne," Zelazny and Saberhagen have produced a unique science fantasy featuring, as its hero, an alternate-time version of Edgar Allen Poe. As if that were not tribute enough to the famous poet, all the characters and many of the scenes are borrowed directly from Poe's stories and poems. Readers with an encyclopedic knowledge of Poe will enjoy tracing the references; others will appreciate the zaniness of cramming an intelligent orangutang, a living corpse, a sorceress, the Inquisition, and a Dutch balloonist into the same plot. Zelazny and Saberhagen obviously wrote "The Black Throne" for the fun of it, and that fun makes what might otherwise have been a silly, pretentious piece of fluff an enjoyable read. [This by guest reviewer Cathy Olanich -- ESR]

%T King of the Scepter'd Isle
%A Michael Greatrex Corey
%I Roc Fantasy
%D November 1990
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 399
%G 0-451-45042-6

"King of the Scepter'd Isle" is the second volume of Coney's Arthurian science fiction epic. Yes, that's right -- science fiction epic. Crucial parts of the action, which literally spans many millenia, turn on the decisions of gnomes, who are aliens from another world and another time line. . . . Elements of Arthurian myth, comic fantasy, alternate history fiction, and mysticism blend and merge into a funny, bizarre, touching drama that (usually) doesn't strain the reader's credulity too much. With or without its prequel, "Fang the Gnome," "King of the Scepter'd Isle" is a diverting quick read from one of the most original new writers of the decade. [This by guest reviewer Cathy Olanich -- ESR]

%T  The Dream Compass
%A  Jeff Bredenberg
%I  Avon
%D January 1991
%O paperback, US$3.50
%P 180
%G  0-380-75647-1

In a scant 180 pages, Jeff Bredenberg sketches for the reader a post-Holocaust society called "Merqua," a web of work and prison camps controlled by a huge bureaucracy which is run by an anonymous figure called "the Monitor." Literacy is a crime in Merqua, and magic (or telepathy or shamanism, or whatever term the reader prefers) coexists with remnants of pre-Holocaust technology. Caveat: Bredenberg's story emerges in a series of vignettes instead of a cohesive narrative, and even a reader familiar with the typical motifs of post-Holocaust fiction may have difficulty figuring out what is going on. Still, judging by "The Dream Compass," a surprisingly concise and vigorous first novel, Bredenberg is an author worth watching. [This by guest reviewer Cathy Olanich -- ESR]

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Sun Jun 09 23:18:23 EDT 1991

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