Locus Online



Complete Locus reviews are available in
back issues

Linked titles can be browsed (or ordered) from Books.

Profiles of Recent Books
from reviews in Locus Magazine

The Alien Years, Robert Silverberg (HarperPrism 0-06-105035-0, $24.00, 428pp, hc, August 1998, cover by Michael Herring) Robert Silverberg takes on one of SF's most hackneyed themes -- an alien takeover of Earth -- with customary literary craft and artistry. The book is partly an homage to Wells's The War of the Worlds, and its aliens are deliberately pulpish, in contrast to the complex human characters who populate its family saga plot. Woven into the novel are several short works that have appeared in recent years, notably last year's ''Beauty in the Night''. Gary K. Wolfe, in the August Locus, says this book ''may be his best novel in years'': it ''achieves a depth and scope rare among invasion tales, and if the main strengths of the novel reside in the various novellas that make it up (and no one does novellas better than Silverberg), that's more than enough to make it a major contribution to Silverberg's mature career.''
(Tue 18 Aug 98)
The Exit at Toledo Blade Boulevard, Jack Ketchum (Obsidian Books 1-891480-01-4, $45, 212pp, hc, May 1998, cover by Alan M. Clark) Thirteen stories by a horror/dark fantasy writer ''whose enthusiastic readership is devoted on very nearly a cult level'', according to Edward Bryant in the July Locus. Bryant finds all the stories noteworthy, but one story, and an essay, are worth the price of the book themselves. The story is ''The Rifle'', ''a short, tight account of a mother's realization that her ten-year-old son is more than just a playful boy doing kid things''. The author's solution ''to the Gordian cultural knot of what to do with a kid gone bad [is] guaranteed to trigger long, impassioned arguments by readers''. The essay is a memoir about the author's days working as a junior agent for literary giant Henry Miller, and their meeting in Miller's California home. ''The success of this portrait of an old and successful writer mano-a-mano with a young and aspiring writer can be measured by the fact that the essay passes by all too rapidly.''
(Tue 18 Aug 98)
The Shapes of Their Hearts, Melissa Scott (Tor 0-312-85877-9, $22.95, 301pp, hc, June 1998, cover by Nick Jainschigg) The Seeking Children, an evangelical religious minority on the planet Eden, is blockaded to prevent copies of its Memoriant, an AI based on scripture, from infecting other worlds. But a crime boss on a neighboring world decides to steal such a copy and sends a clone and a genetically engineered assassin to do the task. Russell Letson writes in the August 1998 Locus that the book satisfies both its ''cyberpunkoid chase-and-escape thriller'' scenario and the subtler character issues suggested by its title. Scott's ''characters, like C. J. Cherryh's, always have lives outside of the requirements of the plot, and social-political-economic contexts in which to live them. There is a sense that adventures don't happen for their own sakes, but grow out of desire and necessity, and that when objectives are reached and McGuffins are retrived, there are still questions to settle and dreams to pursue.''
(Tue 18 Aug 98)
Otherland: River of Blue Fire, Tad Williams (DAW 0-88677-777-1, $24.95, 634pp, hc, July 1998 1998, cover by Michael Whelan) This second book in the ''Otherland'' series builds on the settings and characters established in the first and is set mostly among the super-real virtual worlds of Otherland. Several protagonists are trapped online, wandering through worlds connected by a river that crackles blue fire, picking up clues in each. Carolyn Cushman writes in the August 1998 Locus ''It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle, a spectacularly colorful puzzle, with many elements of more traditional mystery... The complexity of the plot still makes it frustratingly slow at times, but also makes it powerful, rich, and varied, even gripping.''
(Tue 18 Aug 98)

Previous Profiles:
2 Aug 1998:
  • Orson Scott Card's Heartfire
  • Michael Marshall Smith's One of Us
  • Sean Stewart's Mockingbird

    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
  • TOP  
    © 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.