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Raymond's Reviews #132

%T A Martian Rainbow
%A Robert Forward
%I Del Rey
%D June 1991
%O trade paperback, US$18.00
%P 323
%G ISBN 0-345-34712-9

This book marks a bit of a change for Robert Forward (see Rocheworld, RR#28). First, the adversaries in this book are not just the laws of physics but grubby human power politics as well. Secondly, there's a bit more action-adventure flavor than we've seen before in his books. Third, there's some evidence that he's learning how to write --- tighter prose and slightly livelier characters (he's always been good at world design). Still and all, I wouldn't recommend this for any but far-gone hard-SF fans like me.

%T Beauty
%A Sheri S. Tepper
%I Doubleday
%D August 1991
%O tpaperback, US$12.00
%P 412
%G ISBN 0-385-41940-6

As usual, Sheri Tepper writes well in this novel, the life of the half-fairy child Beauty of the 14th century, who carries the hope of Faerie within her. Unfortunately, like her True Game books, this one suffers from a lack of focus. Is she writing a theological fantasy? A character study? A fable about eco-destruction? A pastiche of the brothers Grimm? The book lurches uneasily between several modes, carried by a plot that depends far too much on contrivance, accidents and stupidity. The result is a morality play that doesn't work, because the pivotal choices weren't moral decisions at all. And the ending, rather than confronting this issues Tepper has raised, just seems to evade them --- it puts Beauty and beauty to sleep until some unguessed-at savior sees fit to come calling. I'm beginning to think Ms. Tepper should stick to writing entertainments.

%T Crucible
%A Robert R. Chase
%I Del Rey
%D July 1991
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 182
%G ISBN 0-345-36656-5

In The Game Of Fox And Lion, the Fox (Niccolo Renard) averted a no-win war between normal humans and their genetically-enhanced progeny, the Bestials. In the uneasy peace that has followed, the converted battlestar "Crucible" has been sent on an exploration mission with a mixed crew. The mission has been betrayed from within by someone who is trying to rekindle the war, and the Crucible is downed on an alien world with her drives critically damaged. Once again, the Fox's wits must bear him through seas of danger and intrigue to preserve the fragile peace and a joint humanity's future. Tasty stuff, recommended.

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