Book Review: The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy

Four Stars

“Each culture defines its idiosyncrasies and then forgets it has done so.”

Maybe 4.5 stars. An exceptionally fine story which defies neat genre assignment. It won a Nebula Award, so I feel somewhat safe calling it fantasy, but this is a great, thought-provoking tale for any reader.

“One frightens oneself; it is not the shadow that frightens us.”

Published in 1986, it argues against the proposition that women didn’t write or weren’t recognized for writing first-class fantasy and science fiction. In fact, all the major characters of this tale are women. The men seem included for merely verisimilitude.

“Archeologists are anthropologists who don’t like people.”

Much good information about the ancient Mayans and the field of archeology, without the clumsy data dumps so intrusive in so many novels. It also explores how mothers and daughters have extra power to drive each other crazy and/or help each other out of it. Good job.

“Many people we call insane are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Quibble: The paragraphing is so awkward that the reader must often stop to puzzle out who is acting or speaking the actor often changes midway through paragraphs.

“The dead teach us things.”

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Book Review: Across a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg (Four Stars)

Book Review: Across a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg

Four Stars

“We (archeologists) are enemies of entropy; we seek to snatch back those things that have been taken from us by the years.”

Classic science fiction. Considering it was written in the 1960s, this book’s science fiction works better than many current offerings. It flunks sociology, as do many contemporaries.

“The first rule of archeology is be careful with the evidence. No, that’s the second rule. The first one is find your evidence.”

Twentieth century attitude towards rape; twenty-first century attitude toward inter-species sex. Some cringe-worthy moments. Our “hero” is meant to be clueless, but he’s also a chauvinistic ignoramus (at best).

“It’s unhealthy to gulp down a surfeit of miracles; gives one indigestion of the imagination.”

Topics of interest: Silverberg invented believable slang, acknowledging that languages evolve in four hundred years. Worked. Twenty-fourth century Israel includes the former United Arab Republic (Egypt, Iraq and Syria). Androids are an emancipated minority.

“Communication by pantomime isn’t terribly satisfying.”

Telepathic communication is discussed as “a full meeting of the souls. It is the end of secrecy and suspicion, of misunderstanding, of quarrels, of isolation, of flawed communication, of separation.” That was holy writ in the 1960s. Not so long as humans have greed and pride, not to mention psychopaths. Those who control those impulses would be censored regardless of the mitigating factor of their behavior. Communication is good; knowing each other’s every thought, not so good.

“If we haven’t succeeded in blowing ourselves up by A. D. 2376, we’re probably to make out all right. Maybe.”

Book Review: Boundary by Eric Flint (Five Stars)

Book Review: Boundary by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor

Five Stars out of Five

I’ve read ten books by Flint, and this is the best. It’s not five stars, but it’s close enough to merit the extra star for the reasons explained below. Most of his space operas and alternate histories are popcorn for the brain. Boundary raises several serious issues and melds them into an engaging plot with engaging characters. The cover gives away a lot. The Goodreads.com description (drawn, I assume, from the book’s back cover) spoils even more.

Boundaries is not great literature nor by any means perfect. Why are all the guys hunks and all the girls babes? Why is it that everyone is so blessed reasonable, except for a few obvious foils? It’s unrealistic.

The biggest and best issue raised must be treated as a spoiler because it impacts the book’s closure. I can’t even refer to it obliquely without endangering the fun of potential readers.

Spoiler: The climax is triggered by Continue reading