3001: The Final Odyssey: Short, unnecessary series conclusion

3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

The elements that make 2001: A Space Odyssey a classic — the pacing, dramatic tension, smartly efficient plot lines — are mostly missing from Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey finale, 3001: The Final Odyssey. What it retains is Clarke's obvious exuberance for biological, technological and cultural evolution. Each book in the series represents an evolution in itself even, of Clarke's own perspective and thinking on the growth of humanity overtime, while providing a platform for his reflections on extraterrestrial life and evolution.

Beware of spoilers for the previous books below. I’m assuming anyone who reads this review will likely have read the three... Read More

The Pnume: Will Adam escape the Planet of Adventure?

The Pnume by Jack Vance

The Pnume is the final book in Jack Vance’s PLANET OF ADVENTURE quartet. These four short novels, which were published between 1968 and 1970, combine to tell the story of Adam Reith’s adventures on the planet Tschai after his spaceship crash-landed there. Adam has been trying to gather resources so that he can build a new spaceship and leave Tschai. Besides just wanting to return home, he also wants to warn Earth that there are other sentient creatures out there who may threaten Earth.

There are four main races of inhabitants on Tschai, each with their own customs and quirks. In each of the four PLANET OF ADVENTURE books — City of the Chasch, Servants of the Wankh, The Dirdir, and... Read More

Swords Against Wizardry: Leiber’s fantastic imagination on full display

Swords Against Wizardry by Fritz Leiber

The time has come for sorcery and swords.

After a somewhat disappointing third volume in the Lankhmar series, Fritz Leiber is back to form in Swords Against Wizardry. This book contains four stories about Fafhrd the big red-headed barbarian, and The Gray Mouser, the small wily magician-thief. Three of the stories come from the pulp magazine Fantastic and the first story was created for this volume as an introduction. The stories fit so well together that they almost feel like a novel.

“In the Witch’s Tent” is a very short introductory story in which Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser visit a witch who prophesies about the events to come in the next story.

In the novella “Stardock” (1965, Fantastic), our heroes and an ... Read More

Tehanu: So much misery

Tehanu by Ursula Le Guin

Hmmm. Where to begin.

First, a confession: despite my high marks for this and other installments of the Earthsea series, I never really warmed up to Ursula Le Guin's masterworks. It's like appreciating a painting by Picasso: I know that it's a magnificent piece of art, but that doesn't mean I'd want it hanging on my living room wall. Likewise, I can recognize the craftsmanship and skill that went into creating The Earthsea Cycle; there's so much skill in the writing, in the detail, in the mythological resonances (everything from Carl Jung to Joseph Campbell). Le Guin also had a masterful grip on the nuances of her story, as in the subtle affinity Tenar shares with thistles. But something kept bothering me, and it wasn't until this forth novel Tehanu Read More