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Raymond's Reviews #155

%T Old Nathan
%A David Drake
%I Baen
%D October 1991
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 228
%G ISBN 0-671-72084-8

With this book, David Drake demonstrates that he has a wider range than low-grade military-SF carnography. The demonstration would be more impressive if the work were less derivative, but they're obviously pastiches in the style of Manly Wade Wellman (to whom the book is dedicated). Still, the quality of the pastiches isn't bad; the atmosphere and artifacts of the early American frontier are well-evoked here. Fans of dark fantasy will enjoy the treatment of the supernatural. And perhaps Baen deserves some praise for floating a book that's such an odd and non-commercial hybrid.

%T Supernova
%A Roger MacBride Allen
%A Eric Kotani
%I Avon
%D October 1991
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 345
%G ISBN 0-380-76060-6

In some ways this reminds me powerfully of Black Sun (RR#142) --- another considerably better-than-average disaster novel uplifted by good science and featuring an astronomer as central character. This time the nemesis isn't a solar glitch but Sirius B. No, the Earth isn't incinerated; Sirius B isn't close enough for that. There is a subtler danger, though --- one the authors explore rather tellingly. Also, the depiction of life in academe is truer and more detailed here; the characters more plausible. Decent airplane reading.

%T Jinx High
%A Mercedes Lackey
%I Tor
%D October 1991
%O paperback, US$3.99
%P 314
%G ISBN 0-812-52114-5 

This book had a bunch of strikes against it when it landed on my desk. It's a sequel, it's packaged like a juvenile, Stephen King liked it, and there's a nasty demon face and a pair of witchy women on the cover. All things considered, what was inside turned out to be much better than I expected, and I begin to understand why Mercedes Lackey is commonly touted as one of the best of the newer genre fantasists. The book is sort of an R-rated technology-of-magic dark fantasy for sophisticated teenagers, enjoyable by an adult as a light read. Diana Tregare, romance writer and psychic investigator, visits a yuppie suburb in Oklahoma and promptly trips over the doings of a three-hundred-year-old sorceress who's causing strange and unwholesome manifestations at the local high school. The plot wobbles a bit in spots and the ending is very abrupt, but overall the mix works reasonably well.

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