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Raymond's Reviews #117

Catchup for March releases.

%T The Silicon Man
%A Charles Platt
%I Bantam Spectra
%D March 1991
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 253
%G 0-553-28950-0

Charles Platt gives us an excellently detailed tale of virtual reality and techno-apotheosis. The clearest influence to show up here is the speculations of Hans Moravec, AI researcher and radical transhumanist (on whom the "mad scientist" Dr. Gottbaum may be partly modelled). In some other ways the book is reminiscent of Bear's Blood Music. Though it's a novel of ideas, background and character and action are not slighted. The reader is led by well-measured stages to realize just what Dr. Gottbaum and his friends have cooked up in their labs. Then we are shown the consequences, of which I cannot speak in detail lest I spoil the book --- but they are fascinating. And, in an interesting switcheroo, the people who've been set up as heavies through the novel turn out to have had the right idea all along. The results are tasty and thought-provoking. Highly recommended.

%T Return of the Breakneck Boys
%A Geary Gravel
%I Del Rey
%D March 1991
%O paperback, US$3.95
%P 217
%G 0-345-36947

This sequel to A Key For The Nonesuch (RR#78) is just as much silly fun as it was. I'm beginning to think Gravel is one of those rare and precious writers who is incapable of doing even formula adventure fiction badly. Recommended.

%T World Spirits
%A Aline Boucher-Kaplan
%I Baen
%D March 1991
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 402
%G 0-671-72043-0

Kaplan does a nice job of world-building here, somewhat in the style of Melissa Scott or early LeGuin. On Chennidur, most things are poison to humans and a religion has grown up around the elaborate dietary code necessary for their survival. The aristocrats of the troinom hold the majority of `underranks' in subjection, and offworlders are confined to one tiny enclave. It is undercover agent Aurial il Tarz's job to open Chennidur for trade. This is not going to be easy when the only allies she can find are a xenophobic fundamentalist underground. What makes all this work is that the author never does quite the expected --- and eventually, you find out how adaptive Chennidur's system really is. Recommended.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Sun Jun 23 11:41:54 EDT 1991

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