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Raymond's Reviews #156

%T Stranger In A Strange Land
%A Robert Heinlein
%I Ace
%D October 1991
%O trade paperback, US$9.95
%P 525
%G ISBN 0-441-78838-6

The novel that gave us the word "grok" and made RAH a hero to the '60s counterculture suffered severe cuts on the way to press, losing around 70,000 words from the original manuscript --- about 25% of the total, in fact. This long-awaited reissue is Stranger as Heinlein wrote it, with the cuts restored and some changes demanded by timid editors reversed. The result has substantially better continuity than the rather choppy and occasionally frenetic-seeming cut version. The sexual content is more honest and explicit, though still quite tame by modern standards. It must be said that some of the talking-heads scenes are perhaps too long, too discursive now; and, paradoxically, some of the added detail dates the book more firmly. But on balance, the restorations seem a very good thing. All Heinlein fans, and anyone who was either delighted or upset by the cut version, ought to get acquainted with this one.

%T Consider Phlebas
%A Iain M. Banks
%I Bantam
%D October 1991
%O paperback, US$5.99
%P 497
%G ISBN 0-553-29281-1

If, like me, you consider big-screen space-opera one of life's enduring comforts, you'll want a copy of this book. It gives you a ringside seat on the Culture-Idiran war, through the eyes of a shape-shifting agent of the Idirans assigned to recover a downed Culture battle computer. Even after you figure out that Bora Horza Gorbuchul is working for the bad guys, you'll love the scenery -- the thousand-mile-long worldships of Vavatch Orbital, the tunnels of Schar's World, the jungle planet of Marjoin and its Temple of Light. And there's action aplenty as well; space battles, intrigue, treachery, mystery, and world-engulfing cataclysm. The author even thoughtfully includes an appendix giving a brief history of What Happened After. Great fun, and recommended.

%T Slow Freight
%A F. M. Busby
%I Bantam Spectra
%D October 1991
%O paperback, US$3.99
%P 311
%G ISBN 0-553-29110-6

This book plays some interesting games with a genuinely novel premise -- a teleportation method that costs you a constant two years per transit. And the method involves hyperspatial links that can seriously screw up passing alien starships, and thereby hangs a tale. Busby's house specialty in "the long view", the odd effects of relativistic travel, is fully on display here. It's too bad so much of the wordage is taken up by a mess of human power games and largely pointless sexual intrigues, but if you like your SF hard you probably want this book anyway.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Fri Jan 17 18:18:00 EST 1992

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