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Linked titles can be ordered from Books. Or see SF specialty and independent bookstore links. Prices shown are list. 20 Jan 1998
Recent New and Notable
Cosm, Gregory Benford (Avon Eos, Feb 1998, $23.00, hc) The lead title in Avon's new Eos imprint, Gregory Benford's new novel is his first in several years set in near-present day and depicting scientists at work. An explosion at a nuclear accelerator creates a strange sphere that is a window into a newly created universe. Gary K. Wolfe, in the December 1997 Locus, sees elements of two types of novel not always perfectly meshed:
...An entertaining and suspenseful novel that nevertheless pulls itself in two directions at once: on the one hand, it wants to explore the same serious questions about the politics of academic science that Benford's classic Timescape explored; on the other, it wants to be a suspense thriller in the vein of Artifact or Benford's ''Sterling Blake'' novels... It succeeds better at the former...
Russell Letson (also in December) detects a strong thread of satire in the book, of campus life and early 21st century culture.
...Much of the book's foreground is occupied by more mundane events: paper grading, committee meetings (avoidance of, mainly), encounters with chairs and deans, coping with fame, choosing which outfit to wear to the singles mixer.
And Jonathan Strahan (also in December) wrote:
Cosm is a good, solid science fiction novel. No-one is better at depicting scientists at work than Benford, and he brings all of his skills to portraying the conflict which goes on over ownership of the Cosm, the infighting, politics, and disagreements, as well as the intellectual and emotional excitement of being involved with such important work.
Circuit of Heaven, Dennis Danvers (Avon Eos, Feb 1998, $14.00, hc) An inexpensively priced (and slightly smaller-sized) Avon Eos hardcover by a lesser-known author. In the 21st century, billions of people live digitized in the virtual world of ''the Bin'', while a few million objectors live in the decaying world outside. Danvers develops a star-crossed love affair:
Through the two lovers, Danvers looks at why you would agree to be digitized, the price inherent in that decision, and the stagnation that comes from an unchanging world.
writes Jonathan Strahan in the December 1997 Locus Magazine. Gary K. Wolfe (in the January 1998 issue) sees the book as a variation on one of the oldest stories in the world.
One has to look at Danvers's novel, then, not as a half-baked attempt to describe the actual terms of life in a ciruit city, but as a romantic adventure using the devices of contemporary SF as its vehicle. And by the standards of romance, with its secret identities, mysterious figures from the past, heartbreaking self-revelations, colorful secondary characters, and elaborate schemes, Danvers has produced a suspenseful and entertaining book.
Maximum Light, Nancy Kress (Tor, Jan 1998, $22.95, hc) In the 21st century America is virtually bankrupt and a quarter of the population is over 70; environmental damage has reduced human sperm counts worldwide. Nancy Kress's new novel follows three viewpoint characters in a ''beautifully written thriller'', writes Faren Miller in the December 1997 Locus Magazine: ''While Kress poignantly evokes the world's plight, and the range of desperate, underhanded, crazy (to us citizens of the overpopulated 1990s) measures people are willing to take when children are no longer everywhere around them, she never forgets what's needed for a page-turner. ...Maximum Light is a marvelous work of SF, at once thrilling, suspenseful, intelligent, and profound. Don't miss it.''
The Masterharper of Pern, Anne McCaffrey (Ballantine Del Rey, Jan 1998, $25.00, hc) A new ''Pern'' novel detailing the life of a recurring character from previous books, Masterharper Robinton. Carolyn Cushman, in the December 1997 Locus Magazine, is not impressed: ''His life...makes a tantalizing premise for a novel -- but McCaffrey fails to follow through in entertaining fashion. Instead, this novel feels like a fictionalized biography, tied to fact, and more interested in covering the crucial points than developing a plot.'' But she grants that ''It's a must read for true fans of the 'Dragonriders' series, who will appreciate its many revelations'' -- and readers who've posted comments on the Amazon page for this book seem to agree.
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© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.