The Silver Metal Lover: A book of personal discovery

The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee

It's unfortunate that Tanith Lee had to pass away for me to get the jolt of interest needed to read her work. The Silver Metal Lover (1981), one of her most loved works, is a story about an immature love that blossoms into a fully realized one, and about an immature girl who cries too often and falls in love too easily but blossoms into a strong-willed, independent woman. It's a story about Jane, and her relationship with her robot lover, Silver.

Were this tender novel published today, it would be shelved in the Young Adult section of a bookstore, but such a label had yet to be conceived when it was first published in 1981. It features some of the defining characteristics of that genre as well: a dystopic world whose foundations are crumbling (though in Silver Metal Lover the dystopic elements serve more as background), a young protagonist in... Read More

Downbelow Station: Machiavellian intrigue in space

Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh

I’ve had C.J. Cherryh's 1982 Hugo Award winner Downbelow Station on my TBR list for three decades, and was glad I finally got around to it via Audible Studios, ably narrated by Brian Troxell. It’s an intense, claustrophobic, gritty space opera with a huge cast of hard-nosed characters battling to survive the Machiavellian intrigues of freelance Merchanters, Earth bureaucrats, Company fleet captains, Pell station administrators, Union space forces, secret agents, stationers, and (incongruously) cuddly Downer aliens. It's a big, complex story, and not easy to follow on audio, but well worth the effort. I emphasize the word effort, because it takes some serious concentration to keep track of all the moving pieces, and Cherryh’s tough, muscular prose and clipped dialog only reveal enough to keep t... Read More

VALIS: Reconciling human suffering with divine purpose

VALIS by Philip K Dick

It's often said that "one must suffer for one's art." They must have been referring to Philip K. Dick. He slaved away in relative obscurity and poverty at a typewriter for decades, churning out a prodigious flow of low-paid Ace and Berkeley paperbacks (sometimes fueled by amphetamines), went through five marriages, battled with depression, mental illness and suicide attempts, all culminating in a bizarre religious experience in 1974, and struggled to come to grips with this for the next eight years until his death in 1982 from a stroke at age 54. And yet it wasn’t until VALIS (1981) and the posthumous Radio Free Albemuth (1985) that he addressed these experiences directly in fictional form.

So if you want to get inside the mind of PDK, Radio Free Albemuth and... Read More

The Many-Colored Land: Blackstone, please put the sequels on audio!

The Many-Colored Land by Julian May

The Many-Colored Land, a classic (1981) science fantasy novel by Julian May, wasn’t too high on my TBR list until I noticed that Blackstone Audio released it last month and I remembered that Thomas Wagner recommended it. I like science fantasy, so I gave it shot, and I sure am glad I did. I loved every moment of The Many-Colored Land and my only disappointment is that the rest of The Saga of Pliocene Exile is not available on audio.

The story begins on Earth and the rest of the Galactic Milieu in our 22nd century. Professor Guderian has opened a time tunnel that goes back 6 million years to Earth’s Pliocene period. He ... Read More

Spellsinger & The Hour of the Gate: TMNT meets Tolkien

Spellsinger & The Hour of the Gate by Alan Dean Foster

... Well, perhaps not Tolkien, but I had the urge for alliteration in the title. Spellsinger is a fantasy series quite unlike any other. While the anthropomorphisation of animals is certain not a new thing, Alan Dean Foster has done something out of the ordinary with it here. To give you some idea, if you can imagine the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters in a fantasy setting, then you’ll have some idea of what to expect. Before TMNT was watered down for TV it was a quirky and edgy comic strip with a depth to the characters that adaption for the screen utterly destroyed. Hmm. That probably helps a total of one single reader of this review in understanding more about the novel. Ah well. :) Read More