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Raymond's Reviews #133

%T The Shining Ones
%S Venus Prime
%V Book 6
%A Paul Preuss
%A Arthur C. Clarke
%I Avon
%D August 1991
%O paperback, US$3.95
%P 262
%G ISBN 0-380-75350-2

This oddly-constructed series (each novel a short story by Arthur C. Clarke embedded more or less seamlessly in a novel by Preuss) lurches in this volume to a mildly disappointing conclusion. A few of them were lots of fun, trading on a fizzy mix of space opera and sinister conspiracy theory. In this one, Sparta the bionic woman and her lover Blake Redfield finally confront the super-aliens behind the Knowledge of the sinister Prophetae of the Free Spirit. Unfortunately, the narrative viewpoint is neither of them; rather, we see the aliens, some world-smashing pyrotechnics, and some rather implausible time-travel paradoxes through the eyes of a normal human unequipped to understand what's really going on. The result aims at Stapledonian grandeur but ends up subtly out-of-focus. Don't bother unless you've read the previous five.

%T Lunar Justice
%A Charles Harness
%I Avon
%D August 1991
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 180
%G ISBN 0-380-76010-X

Charles Harness has a very weird mind. In this book, a patent attorney saves a client from being guillotined on the Moon for high treason, by psionically blowing up the planet Jupiter. This sort of thing might be over-the-top fun, if Harness's world weren't such a tissue of unjustified absurdities. To name just one, society shows no signs of having adapted in any way to the existence of psionic supermen who can induce nuclear reactions from planetary distances. Pass on this unless you cultivate a taste for the bizarre and don't care that the world-design is ludicrous and the plot utterly contrived.

%T Specterworld
%A Isidore Haiblum
%I Avon Books
%D August 1991
%O paperback, US$3.95
%P 215
%G ISBN 0-380-75858-X

Isidore Haiblum's writing style is a kind of edgy, gritty surrealism that works very well with some premises and very poorly with others --- something like a cross between Philip K. Dick and Keith Laumer with a soupcon of Ron Goulart. Unfortunately, Specterworld wasn't written on a good day for him. The Chandleresque first-person narration is flat and unconvincing; the plot, in which the boss gumshoe of a robot rent-a-cop service confronts his evil clones amidst a whirl of alternate universes, is thin and hard to follow. Pass on this one.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Sat Jul 27 18:39:27 EDT 1991

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