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Raymond's Reviews #120

End of April catchup, into May 1991.

%T The Initiate Brother
%A Sean Russell
%D April 1991
%O paperback, US$4.99
%P 480
%G 0-88677-466-7

The bad news about this book is that, although not labelled as "Volume 1" it ends on a cliffhanger setup for a sequel. The good news is you'll probably want to read the sequel. The world may be a pastiche of every orientophile cliche there is, but Russell knows how to plot and draw interesting characters. And the book's McGuffin --- the central esoteric power of the Botahist monks --- is not only original but plausible, in that one can believe it without making any supernaturalist assumptions. Fun stuff, even if it does read a bit too much like an out-take from the old Kung Fu TV series in spots.

%T Blind Justice
%A S. N. Lewitt
%I Ace
%D April 1991
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 262
%G 0-441-71843-4

This dark, atmospheric tale of revolution, betrayal and revenge shows that Lewitt has a wider range than just the military-flavored cyberpunk of her earlier novels Cyberstealth and Dancing Vac. Unfortunately, she can't seem to think of any more imaginative ending than to kill off her characters and doom the world. Better luck next time.

%T When The Music's Over
%E Lewis Shiner
%I Bantam
%D May 1991
%O paperback, US$5.95
%P 322
%G 0-553-28985-3

This theme anthology of anti-war, anti-violence stories displays all the earnestness, anguish, good intentions, empathy, and ethical muddleheadedness typical of the peace movement. The beginning and end stories exemplify this best, by offering `solutions' to the problem of war that involve secret coercive mind-alteration on a massive scale. Others confuse the problem of war with the ecological tragedy of the commons, or with the communication gap between the sexes, or with any of several other trendy causes. All seem pegged to the notion (readily dispelled by any study of animal ethology) that homo sapiens is a uniquely vicious and innately aggressive species. Nevertheless, there is some excellent writing here, especially in Walter Jon Williams's "Prayers On The Wind" and Paul J. McAuley's "The Invisible Country". Buy it used, ignore the preachiness of the minor pieces, and enjoy.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Tue Jul 02 17:16:11 EDT 1991

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