1979.03


Life, the Universe, and Everything: Still funny, but losing coherence

Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams

I loved THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY series when I read it back in 5th grade. It was one of the first science fiction series I read, shortly after THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN. I was just forming my taste in fantastic fiction, and this was the first series I read that was truly funny, featuring dry, ironic British humor no less. It was completely new to a kid growing up in sunny Hawaii, pretty much as far from rainy, overcast England as you can get. In many cases I knew it was clever dialogue, but had no idea what Adams meant.

Listening to the audiobook read by Martin Freeman more than 20 years later, working with several very British co-workers who love to debate about the Tory & Labor parties, cricket (especially The Ashes), how rubbish Man U is this year, and whether Diego Costa is... Read More

Valentine Pontifex: A worthy conclusion to Valentine’s tale

Valentine Pontifex by Robert Silverberg

In Lord Valentine’s Castle, Robert Silverberg created an exotic planet filled with peoples and landscapes, all bursting with imagination. Silverberg also gave his audience a strong, lovingly crafted main character in Lord Valentine, a man recovering after his throne was wrongfully swept out from beneath his feet. The conclusion of the tale, Valentine Pontifex, is the other side of the coin, however. How does Valentine deal with the weighty exigencies of leadership, all the while getting older? Not as fresh or original as Lord Valentine’s Castle, Valentine Pontifex is nevertheless a fair read that continues to define Silverberg’s take on science fantasy on the vast planet Majipoor.

Ten years have passed since Lord Valentine retook the throne that was rightfully his, and in the time s... Read More

Storms of Victory: So much left to do in this unfinished series

Storms of Victory by Jerry Pournelle

Storms of Victory, the third book in Jerry Pournelle’s JANISSARIES series, begins with a wedding and a war council, two events that epitomize Rick Galloway’s interactions on the planet Tran so far — making allies and subduing enemies. Even as he solidifies one alliance with a marriage, the mood of the festive occasion is dampened by rumors of impending political and religious conflict. Besides his known allies and enemies, Rick is soon dealing with traitors, assassins, kidnappers, and teenage ninjas. Nobody can be trusted — not even his own wife. In fact, Rick’s marriage is on the rocks, a situation that provides much of the dramatic tension in Storms of Victory.

All of this drama and turmoil is preventing Rick et al from focusing on their most important job — harvesting the psychotropic plant for their al... Read More

Lady of Avalon: Help, I’m lost in the mists of history!

Lady of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Lady of Avalon is a set of three sort-of-related stories about priestesses on the Druid isle of Avalon, during the centuries preceding Bradley's stunning Mists of Avalon.

And they're OK, in general. I especially liked Viviane's story; I learned more about what made that complex character tick.

Unfortunately, certain details of the history set up by Bradley in Mists were contradicted in Lady of Avalon. Don't read this if you don't want to get a headache trying to reconcile the two chronologies. The result of the ritual to enshroud the isle in the mists, as well as the backstory of Taliesin, were altered, along with a few other things. I suppose I could theorize that Marion Zimmer Bradley did it on purpose, and we're supposed to assume that the "true story" wa... Read More