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Profiles of Recent Books
from reviews in Locus Magazine

The Iron Bridge, David Morse (Harcourt Brace 0-15-100259-2, $25.00, 436pp, hc, July 1998) An unusual time travel novel in which a traveler from the year 2043 visits an early site of the Industrial Revolution: Shropshire, England, in 1773, where the world's first iron bridge is about to be built. Maggie Foster arrives during an earthquake and soon makes her way into the household of Abraham Darby III, builder of the bridge. She reflects on the bleak world of the 21st century, meets historical figures including John Wilkinson, Erasmus Darwin, and Wedgewood, and considers the possibility of changing history. Faren Miller, in the July Locus, says Morse has ''a masterful way with a tale'' and concludes ''In all, The Iron Bridge is a marvelous first novel which explores future and past (and so illuminates the present) with the vigorous intelligence of the best SF.''
(Thu 10 Sep 98)
Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson (Warner Aspect 0-446-67433-8, $12.99, 250pp, tp, July 1998, cover by Linda Messier) Another first novel, and winner of the publisher's first novel contest from among nearly 1000 entires. The author employs her Caribbean background but sets the story in a near-future Toronto, a gang-ruled urban wasteland where a young woman called Ti-Jeanne engages the spirits to battle corrupt officials trying to find a heart donor, willing or not, for the premier of Ontario. Gary K. Wolfe (in the July Locus) identifies the work as true magic realism: ''something genuinely unique, a mix of near-future SF, Caribbean folklore (as transplanted to Canada), and graphic horror presented in a voice at once highly original and genre-savvy.'' Faren Miller (in the May Locus) said ''what propels this fast-paced work is the author's gift for passionate, vivid tale-spinning. ... Hopkinson is a genuine find.'' (Thu 10 Sep 98)
Psychoshop, Alfred Bester & Roger Zelazny (Vintage 0-679-76782-7, $12.00, 207pp, tp, July 1998) A posthumous collaboration between Bester, who left part of a manuscript behind when he died in 1987, and Zelazny, who finished it before he died in 1995. It's about a magazine reporter who tracks down an odd place in Rome called the Black Place of the Soul-Changer -- the shop of the title -- that trades in personality traits and talents and is actually the work of time travelers stranded since Etruscan times, working their way back to the 25th century. ''But the plot hardly matters'' notes Gary K. Wolfe in the September Locus; ''the novel coasts on snappy dialogue, and it doesn't coast far enough.'' Hardly representative of the best of either author, the book is ''the kind of after-hours jam session that never quite coheres enough to become the stuff of legend, or even the stuff of a good rumor.''
(Thu 10 Sep 98)
Aftermath, Charles Sheffield (Bantam Spectra 0-553-37893-7, $13.95, 452pp, tp, August 1998, cover by Paul Youll) A catastrophe novel about the effects of a nearby supernova that fries the southern hemisphere of Earth in 2026 and zaps the technology of the rest of the planet. The story follows three groups of survivors: the first Jewish U.S. president; a returning Mars expedition; and cancer patients rescuing a brilliant scientist from judicial sleep. Russell Letson writes in the September Locus ''On reflection, this is apretty busy collection of motifs, machines, and plot-drivers: three sets of characters and their gradually converging plotlines, plus enough other forces to stock a five-volume trilogy... But Sheffield juggles all the storytelling and science variables skillfully, so I'm not about to complain...especially since tying up all the threads promises to extend an entertaining ride for another book or two.''
(Thu 10 Sep 98)

Previous Profiles:
18 Aug 1998:
  • Robert Silverberg's The Alien Years
  • Jack Ketchum's The Exit at Toledo Blade Boulevard
  • Melissa Scott's The Shapes of Their Hearts
  • Tad Williams's Otherland: River of Blue Fire

    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
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    © 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.