Galileo’s Dream, Kim Stanley Robinson, Spectra (Random House), Dec 29 2009, $26.00, ISBN: 9780553806595, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.
To the colonists on the moons of Jupiter, Galileo is the prophet who led humanity on the first great leap into space with his telescope. He is a God in the future, but in his own Renaissance time in Italy, he faces condemnation by the Church for heretic acts.
As he faces trial that could lead to his burning, a man calling himself Ganymede claims to have come from the far future to consult with him and encourage him in 1609 Padua. Ganymede knows his side in a future debate over mankind, wants to bring Galileo forward in time in order to save the man and change history; others also want to influence history perhaps by insuring Galileo burns at the stake rather than go under house arrest.
This is a thought provoking alternate history science fiction that is not an easy read, but worth the time for those who relish a cerebral thriller. Galileo makes the story line with a mix of diverse emotions like a need to advance science but a fear of what he is doing. With an underlying message that humanity must stay alert to keep those who claim divine communication to thwart advances by burning scientific research on a media inferno. Fans will appreciate Kim Stanley Robinson’s deep tale that connects renaissance Italy with man in space.
Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, Laini Taylor, Firebird Fantasy, May 2009, $9.99, ISBN: 9780142411681, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.
Over twenty-five millennia ago, the faeries trapped the demons into bottles that were secured by magical incantations before tossing them into the sea. One thousand years later humans appear on the scene. They find the prisons, receive three wishes and begin to counter the spells not realizing just what is incarcerated. These self centered “mannies” begin to undo the heroic work of the champions by freeing the demons.
The faerie community is stunned with what the mannies are doing as they cannot comprehend why would anyone release evil onto themselves and other species including those who have gone into hiding. Most of the faeries do not want to become involved, but a few have become demon hunters. The only demon slayer in her community, Magpie Windwitch, who has killed over twenty demons, has no choice when malevolent “uncreator” Blackbringer prepares to attack her home Dreamdark having killed an immortal. She and her loyal crows try to wake up the inert Djinn Magruwen with the horrific news that Blackbringer has killed one of his seven and is coming for him and Dreamdark. However, to her shock the all mighty Djinn refuses to get involved as what he and his peers created has been devastated by those who only care for their immediate hedonistic needs.
This is an entertaining young teen save the world fantasy due to the mythological species seeming genuine especially the faeries, crows, Magruwen and one particularly nasty demon. Magpie is a fascinating but anticipated heroine who in her new role of world saving champion learns personal secrets. With an ethical message that encourages hard work, honesty and caring for others, Magpie and her crows have setbacks as they blunder and make errors, but never give up. Young adult readers will join her band of warriors to end Blackbringer’s reign of terror.
The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny, Simon R. Green, Ace, Jan 5 2010, $24.95, ISBN: 9780441018161, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.
Welcome to the Darkside; a place within London that can only be accessed by people in the know; a place that is perpetually dark so that those soulless who are darkest can hide without contaminating the world of light and souls. There are some good people who reside in this hell hole like private investigator John Taylor, who is on an assignment to Lord Screech guarding him and the peace treaty between the Fairy Courts of Queens Mab and Tatiana.
Walker, the voice of authority dedicated to keeping the status quo in Nightside, wants the treaty in his hands; so he sends his army, werewolves and thugs who fly on carpets to obtain it. The elf tells John that Excalibur is coming, but he has to believe it is not what it seems.
His next case involves finding Tommy Oblivion who disappeared during the Lilith Wars. His client Tommy’s brother Larry the zombie, who has deep family feelings, was the person who accidentally freed Mab from the hell she inhabited. To complicate John’s life, Walker is dying and needs his replacement assisting the Authorities; his choice is Taylor.
The latest Nightside fantasy provides the readers with a fresh glimpse into the frightening community. Ironically though many of the denizens are evil, they are fascinating in a macabre way having survived even before the first dinosaur was born. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the cast especially Taylor and his three clients, who make for an entertaining walk (make that a sprint) on the Darkside.
Nightchild, James Barclay, PYR, Nov 24 2009, $16.00, ISBN: 9781591027850, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.
The seven mercenaries that made up the Raven split up in retirement five years ago after the harrowing events in which they and the Dragons saved the world (see DAWNTHIEF and NOONSHADE). However, the Dragons cannot go home and are dying due to the air of the Kingdom of Balaria where they reside and people hunting them as beasts rather than saviors who were critical in shutting down the rift.
Two of the magnificent seven Erienne the Dordovan mage and Denser the Xeteskian mage had a relationship that led to the birth of Lyanna. The Colleges of Magic want Lyanna at all costs as the Lord Mages recognize who she is and what she will do to their positions of power. They believe she is the prophesied NIGHTCHILD, who will unite the four magics currently, divided amongst the colleges and kill thousands in the process. They are coming for the five years old leading to the reunion of the Raven who though they argue, fuss and fight with one another; also unite to protect one another even if the one they keep safe apparently is ripping asunder from within the kingdom leaving thousands dead.
This is a brilliant climax to the trilogy as the “threat” to the existing order comes from within, a five year old magical hybrid. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as fans of the saga catch up with retired friends who gave up swashbuckling and magic to tend bar, raise a child, etc. However, the only thing that could bring together a five year reunion is the threat to one of them. Filled with moral issues bug and small, NIGHTCHILD is a fitting end to a strong saga.