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Distraction, Bruce Sterling (Bantam Spectra 0-553-10484-5, $23.95, 439pp, hc, December 1998, cover by Cliff Nielsen) Sterling's new novel is, according to Gary K. Wolfe in the December 1998 Locus magazine, ''his funniest novel to date, and one of his most topical in terms of its satirical targets''. It follows the travails of a newly elected senator in an economically chaotic near future dominated by trends that resemble ideas in Sterling's recent Manifesto of January 3, 2000. Sterling is more interested in ''witty setpieces than in the forward thrust of his story'', but it is ''as provocative and intelligent a novel as we've come to expect from Sterling''. Russell Letson, in the November Locus, writes ''This is a very smart, very funny book, as dependent on the quality of its writing as on the ingenuity of its science fictional thinking.'' (Mon 7 Dec 98)
Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler (Avon Eos 0-380-97456-8, $20.00, 385pp, hc, December 1998) Butler's new novel is a sequel to Parable of the Sower (1993), which introduced a humanist philosophy/religion called Earthseed that equated God with change and considered humanity's destiny to colonize to the stars. Beginning five years later, in 2032, Butler describes her Earthseed community overtaken by a Christian America paramilitary force. ''Nothing Butler has written to date ... can quite approach the unremitting terror that makes up the middle third of this novel'' writes Gary K. Wolfe in the December 1998 Locus Magazine. ''Butler deserve[s] credit for recognizing that the impulse toward space exploration is in many ways fundamentally a religious one; her strategy of casting what John Wyndham called the 'outward urge' into a humanist movement set in opposition to repressive fundamentalism is clever...''
(Mon 7 Dec 98)
Playing God, Sarah Zettel (Warner Aspect 0-446-52622-4, $22.00, 417pp, hc, November 1998, cover by Steve Youll) Big corporation terraforming an alien planet threatens the native culture -- an over-familiar scenario, writes Carolyn Cushman in the November 1998 Locus Magazine, but the ambiguity of the ''question of whether it's a bad corporation taking advantage of ignorant natives and destroying a unique culture, or a very good corporation moving mountains to restore a planet nearly destroyed by its unremittantly violent inhabitants'' keeps the book from being merely an ordinary action adventure novel. Faren Miller, in the same issue of Locus, can't quite agree; the book ''turns into more of a thriller... What begins with the multi-dimensional complexity of a novel by a genuinely gifted SF writer seems to get hijacked by episodes from a better than average sci-fi film.'' (Mon 7 Dec 98)

Previous Review Pages:

19 Nov 1998:

  • Walter Mosley's Blue Light
  • Maureen F. McHugh's Mission Child
  • Poul Anderson's Starfarers

    26 Oct 1998:

  • The Avram Davidson Treasury: A Tribute Collection edited by Robert Silverberg and Grania Davis
  • Elizabeth Hand's Last Summer at Mars Hill
  • Stephen Baxter's Traces
  • Nancy Kress's Beaker's Dozen

    19 Oct 1998:

  • Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel's anthology Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction
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    © 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.