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Profiles of Recent Books
from reviews in Locus Magazine

Heartfire, Orson Scott Card (Tor 0-312-85054-9, $24.95, 301pp, hc, August 1998, cover by Dennis Nolan) This is the fifth book in Card's ongoing saga of Alvin Maker -- a series just voted among the all-time best fantasy novels in this year's Locus poll. Alvin has hopes of one day founding a mighty city for people with special knacks, somewhere in the west. But as this book starts he is in New England, meeting Jean-Jacques Audubon, the painter of birds. (This chapter is excerpted in the new issue of the revived Amazing Stories). Later he meets Honoré de Balzac while his wife Peggy wangles an audience with an exiled English king in the southern city of Camelot (formerly Charleston NC). Faren Miller, reviewing the book in the August Locus Magazine, writes ''Strictly in terms of plot, this volume resembles the High Fantasy where a varied group of questers assembles before the next stage of the journey toward a great goal. Readers demanding that Alvin put all his powers to use in building something new in his alternate America might find the latest adventures unsatisfying. But major issues are addressed here -- not only the problems of this land, but the most universal basics of human good and evil -- in an interweaving of viewpoints livened by that combination of vivid absurdity and unexpected magic which invigorates the American folktale.''
(Sun 2 Aug 98)
One of Us, Michael Marshall Smith (Bantam 0-553-10605-8, $23.95, 302pp, hc, August 1998, cover by Tom Hallman) Michael Marshall Smith breaks all the rules in his third novel, writes Edward Bryant in the June 1998 Locus Magazine, admitting that ''this weirdly configured, carefully stylized, futuristic fable of relationships, cyberspace, and the intrusion of the spiritual into the mundane is enormously entertaining.'' In Southern California a quarter century hence, the police deal with an illegal market in memories and dreams, while Hap Thompson, a criminal with a native talent for storing and sanitizing other people's dreams, is recruited by a shadowy firm called REMtemps. Hap finds himself on the lamb, encountering a spectrum of adversaries including ''six identically dressed men who look like characters out of The X-Files, enigmatic figures who may be aliens, or perhaps angels. And there is an even more presentable gentleman who just might be God Himself.'' Along the way are bizarre SFnal oddities: a pill to guarantee a certain number of coincidences in a finite time; a folding car the owner can pocket and carry into a restaurant. It's an inventive potpourri, writes Bryant: ''The magic will support you if you just don't look down.''
(Sun 2 Aug 98)
Mockingbird, Sean Stewart (Ace 0-441-00547-0, $21.95, 279pp, hc, August 1998, cover by Maggie Taylor) Contemporary fantasy about two daughters of a flamboyant, witchy Texas woman who bequeaths her voodoo-like 'riders' to daughter Toni via a sip of 'mockingbird wine'. Expecting to be free of their mother's influence, both Toni and Candy ''find their lives entangled with a very American blend of magics, aspirations, suburbs, and city life'' write Faren Miller in the August 1998 Locus Magazine, concluding that the book is ''a lovely, eloquent tale, at once funny and sad, of gifts, curses, femininity, Texas, American at large -- and our world's small gods at work.''
(Sun 2 Aug 98)

Previous Profiles:
22 July 1998:
  • J. R. Dunn's Full Tide of Night
  • Sheri S. Tepper's Six Moon Dance

    8 July 1998:
  • Kim Stanley Robinson's Antarctica
  • Robert Charles Wilson's Darwinia
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fifteenth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois
  • Thomas M. Disch's The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of

    21 May 1998:
  • Jack McDevitt's Moonfall
  • Patricia Anthony's Flanders
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Komarr
  • Paul J. McAuley's Child of the River
  • Year's Best SF 3, edited by David G. Hartwell
  • Nebula Awards 32, edited by Jack Dann
  • TOP  
    © 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.