Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The Barsoom Project, Home for a Spell, and Tempted by Fate revewed
The Barsoom Project
Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
At Dream Park, the participants have signed on to play "Fat-Ripper Special". The rules are simple: exercise and behavior modification when it comes to eating habits. In other words, the gamers are paying big bucks to lose big weight through new memes.
As the firm who runs Dream Park begins work on the Barsoom Project expedition of Mars, investment capital is needed. Everything involving the weight loss role playing program must go smoothly or else. However, Dream Park Security Chief Alec Griffin realizes the facility is under attack by nefarious capitalist Kareem Fekesh who wants to own the theme park and much more. One of the gamers, Eviane after a stay at a mental asylum following her previous visit to Dream Park when holograms she killed turned out to be real people; returns with hopes to recover missing aspects of her memory that a stalker plans to never allow happen.
This is a reprint of the second Dream Park science fiction thriller that merges Inuit mythos with gaming technology. Although well written especially the gaming confrontation between Griffin and Fekesh, this lacks the unique freshness of the first novel. Also like Dream Park, the ironically titled The Barsoom Project is not for everyone as the targeted audience is predominantly players; who will find this is an interesting enjoyable tale. Harriet Klausner
Home for a Spell
Stony Mill, Indiana is a charming small town known as the antiques capital of the Midwest. It used to be a quiet place where nothing major occurred, but in the last year a string of murders unconnected to each other has occurred. Maggie O’Neill, who works at the Enchantments antique shop, is an empath who channels her Spirit Guides and at times casts a magick spell. Her lover Marcus Quinn and her boss Felicity “Liss” Dow are experienced with the paranormal arts.
Maggie lives with Marcus since she broke her ankle and needs his help to get around. When she realizes he is going to delay attending college to take care of her, she decides to move into her own place. Maggie gets a good deal on a rental but when they go to sign the lease, they find the complex manager dead in the pool. Using Marcus’ mundane skills and Maggie’s arcane gifts, they work with the police to find out what was on a flash drive and a hard drive that was smashed to smithereens. What they learn explains why he was murdered, but who the perpetrator is remains blank.
This whimsical amateur sleuth small town urban fantasy mystery is pure magic as is the overall series (see A Witch In Time). Maggie has matured considerably in the past year as she has learned to love her skills rather than rue having them. The murder is believable and the characters ring true. However, Home for a Spell belongs to the lead couple as the author casts a spellbinder of a tale on enchanted readers. Harriet Klausner
Tempted by Fate
Grand Central, $7.99
Willow Tarata’s fate was settled when she was ten years old when the beast she called “The Bad Man” killed her mom. Her quest ever since she saw her mom viciously murdered has been to kill this man. Like her mom before her, she is a Guardian of Wood, who for twenty years has followed the blood trail of the evil Bad Man.
Willow learns of a strange homicide in San Francisco. She rushes to the City by the Bay, but not only is she too late, the evidence points to her as a serial killer as two other similar homicides have occurred. Known for adhering rigidly to standard operating procedures, SFPD homicide detective Rick Ramirez is reasonably sure she is the predator hunting his city, but his heart refuses to accept what he sees so he delays what he knows he must do. Still even blinded by his feelings, Rick believes that somehow Willow is the root to solving the murders.
This excellent Guardians of Destiny urban romantic fantasy (see Marked by Passion and Chosen by Desire) is made fresh by the heroine whose psychological acceptance of wandering, living and dying alone is her essence until Rick shakes her soul. Opposites in personality, Rick and Willow make a strong yin and yang team though each has trust issues when it comes to love having your back. Kate Perry provides a strong entry with this pairing as the duet prepares to fight a malevolent serial killing predator; both wonder if their partner truly has their back since they already have their heart. Harriet Klausner