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Profiles of Recent Books
from reviews in Locus Magazine

Bag of Bones, Stephen King (Scribner 0-684-85350-7, $28.00, 529pp, hc, September 1998) Edward Bryant writes in the September Locus that King's new novel ''is indeed a traditional tale of ghosts and hauntings. But it is simultaneously an ambitiously contemporary literary achievement, filled with writerly devices ranging from simple recursive in-jokes to sharp metafictional commentary about the storytelling art, not to mention a thoroughly unreliable narrator. Seductive plot and scintillant style -- King handles both with great panache. At better than 500 pages, this is a fairly bulky book. I think the reader will rarely be aware of the mass. The author has whipped the narrative consistency until it's smooth as butter.''
(Sat 26 Sep 98)

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Inversions, Iain M. Banks (Orbit 1-85723-626-2, £16.99, 345pp, hc, June 1998, cover by Mark Salwowski) Banks's latest SF novel is set on a world where technology has reached the level of muskets and medical knowledge remains primitive. Two stories interweave, one by a king's physician and the other by a chief bodyguard -- both, it becomes apparent, from Banks's sophisticated Culture. Faren Miller writes in the September Locus that ''This could be SF, of a rather sneaky sort, but by book's end it feels far more like a combination of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors (as pairs of lovers mix, match, and go astray) and some dark-toned Jacobean revenge tragedy, filled with murders, subtle poisons, and political machinations with a very personal edge. What makes it uniquely Banksian is the importance of formal social interplay, games and dances where every move seems to mirror some aspect of the wider plot. ... For all the outsider status of its two citizens of the Culture, Inversions essentially deals with the mystery, paradox, absurdities, and dangers of the human heart, true for any place and time.''
(Sat 26 Sep 98)
Moonseed, Stephen Baxter (HarperCollins Voyager 0-00-225426-3, £16.99, 535pp, hc, August 1998, cover by Chris Moore) In Baxter's latest novel of NASA fiction -- following Voyage, Titan, and any number of short stories -- he begins by destroying the Earth, via the 'moonseed' of the title, bacteria-sized particles brought to Earth in the Apollo moon rocks. First Venus blows up; then Edinburgh gets creamed; then the rest of Scotland and the state of Washington. Gary K. Wolfe writes in the August 1998 Locus that ''Baxter's real fascination, it quickly becomes apparent, lies not so much in the question of how to save the earth as in the question of how we would mount a new moon landing program if we absolutely had to right now, using available technology.'' An epic cast of characters with numerous subplots and lots of special effects sometimes strain credulity. ''On a number of levels, Moonseed is a profoundly silly book, an Irwin Allen disaster epic done up with the narrative tricks of Michener and the sensibility of Buzz Aldrin. But Baxter is so passionate an advocate for what he believes in, so ingenuous and enthusiastic a storyteller... that he finally sells you: in the end, Moonseed is a terrific, full-featured Barnum and Bailey sideshow of an apocalypse, with plenty of buttons to push for the techs and lots of lava.''
(Sat 26 Sep 98)

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Previous Profiles:
17 Sep 1998:
  • Brian Stableford's Inherit the Earth
  • Patricia A. McKillip's Song for the Basilisk
  • David Weber's Echoes of Honor
  • Wil McCarthy's Bloom

    10 Sep 1998:
  • David Morse's The Iron Bridge
  • Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring
  • Alfred Bester & Roger Zelazny's Psychoshop
  • Charles Sheffield's Aftermath

    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
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