Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Sun Jul 28 13:53:12 EDT 1991

Raymond's Reviews #135

%T Surfing Samurai Robots
%A Mel Gilden
%I Roc
%D August 1991
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 252
%G ISBN 0-451-45100-7

If you've ever asked yourself what would happen if an alien fixated on the old "Phillip Marlowe" radio shows waded ashore at Malibu determined to pursue a career as a private eye, this book is for you. Zoot, fleeing boredom and the family business on dull old planet T'toom, stumbles straight into the middle of a bunch of whacked-out surfer dudes who, sure enough, hand him a mystery; someone has beaten up their surfing 'bots! The subsequent plot is slight, but never mind; the fun in this book is Gilden's send-ups of film-noir cliche, and the various characters of types likeable, silly and menacing that Zoot caroms off as he adjusts to the bizarre complexities of Earth life. And yes, there will be a sequel.

%T A World Lost
%A James B. Johnson
%D August 1991
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 316
%G ISBN 0-88677-498-5

Rusty Wallace is one of the last spacers, an individualist anomaly in a galactic society knitted together by the matter transmitters of PlexNet. Somebody has vanished his homeworld --- removed the entire solar system, lock, stock and asteroids. Now he's got a fragment of a Mayday message, powerful enemies, and just a hundred days to find his planet. This book gives us a new twist on the running-man plot; it's played for laughs, gently. A fun read-once.

%T Grounded!
%A Chris Claremont
%I Ace
%D August 1991
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 323
%G ISBN 0-441-30416-8

This sequel to Claremont's comic-book style space-opera First Flight unfortunately lacks most of the action and energy that made the first book such fun trash. Nicole Shea, the secret hero of Earth's first contact with the alien Halyan't'a, has been grounded by a medical board convinced that she has yet to recover psychologically from her ordeals. Assigned to liaison duty with a Halyan't'a delegation, she finds herself caught up in the intrigues surrounding the powerful Cobri family --- which may be connected with the Wolfpack pirates who'd once almost destroyed her. But perhaps the greatest threat to her future is her own growing doubts about her confidence. It's understandable that Claremont is trying to add some psychological depth to what he obviously intends to be a continuing character. Unfortunately, he isn't very good at it yet; the result is a lot of well-intentioned stumbling around that has neither the coherence of a real character study nor the snazzy production values of another lasers'n'leather space shoot-em-up. There's some nice investigation of the promises and perils attached to "virtual reality" technology, though. Overall, I'd say this is just barely worth reading if you liked First Flight, in hopes that the inevitable sequel will return to action-adventure form.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Sun Jul 28 13:53:12 EDT 1991

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