2010: Odyssey Two: Answers some questions

2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke

Please note that this review will include spoilers of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, we learn that mysterious forces have guided humanity’s evolution. We don’t meet these forces, but we do see their monoliths. The first monolith appears before a group of struggling chimpanzees. When they touch the monolith, they are inspired to use tools. The novel shifts to the twenty-first century, when another monolith is found on the moon. A third and final monolith is found near Jupiter (Saturn in Arthur C. Clarke’s first novel, but the location is ret-conned here). Humanity sends several people — two conscious humans, three humans in suspended animation, and one computer known as HAL — aboard Discovery to inspect the final m... Read More

Servants of the Wankh: Still trying to get off that crazy planet

Servants of the Wankh by Jack Vance

Servants of the Wankh (1969) is the second of Jack Vance’s PLANET OF ADVENTURE stories. It’s a direct sequel to City of the Chasch, which you’ll want to read first, though Servants of the Wankh has a short but thorough recap of the story so far. Adam Reith was stranded on the planet Tschai after his spaceship crashed there. He is now back to full health, has formed a couple of friendships and a romance, and is still trying to get off that crazy planet.

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First, though, he has agreed to escort Ylin Ylan, the damsel in distress that he saved in the previous book, back to her country. He’s secretly hoping that her wealthy father will reward him in a way t... Read More

Swords Against Death: Sword and sorcery’s most famous duo

Swords Against Death by Fritz Leiber

After a self-imposed exile, our heroes — the legendary Fafhrd and Gray Mouser — are back to their old shenanigans in the sinful city of Lankhmar. Shortly after their return, they find themselves hypnotically drawn across Newhon’s Outer Sea to lands unknown, only to have to survive a perilous journey to again get back to Lankhmar — the closest thing they have to a home. Along with their other misadventures, they finally come to terms with the deaths of their true-loves.

As stated on the book’s back-cover, Fritz Leiber shares the throne as a master of fantasy along with J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, and C.S. Lewis. In fact, I’ve heard that Read More

The Tombs of Atuan: Strong second book

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin

The Tombs of Atuan is the second book in the Earthsea series that began with A Wizard of Earthsea. Wizard is a true classic, and it wouldn't be much criticism to say Atuan doesn't match it. It's true, but The Tombs of Atuan is still well worth the read, quite strong in its own right.

The Tombs of Atuan is a near complete shift of character, setting, and style. Ged, the protagonist of Earthsea, is present, but mostly off-stage for much of the book, giving way to a young girl called Tenar. The setting, rather than an episodic tour of the Earthsea archipelago, is much more narrow, taking place on a single island, in mostly two very limited areas — Tenar's priestess palace and th... Read More