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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Madness Season

Copyright 1990 by C. S. Friedman

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this on the 12th November 2001.

In the Earth of a few hundred years in the future, our protagonist is a mediocre and mild-mannered professor. He teaches in one of the few remaining colleges allowed by the Tyr, the alien conquerors of Earth. He's been getting along with his life quite nicely, keeping his down and avoiding any problems with the new rulers.

Still, all that changes when the Tyr come for him. They've realised that he's not exactly what he seems, in fact he's one heck of a lot more. Because of his unusual capabilities and his rare knowledge he is exiled from Earth. This exile brings him face to face with his conscience and provokes him into taking something of a moral stance, in this case a very active moral stance, it's guiding principle being the defeat and destruction of the alien invaders. So once he's got his gander up, it's only a matter of uniting the resistance among the few remnants of humanity and other races scattered through the Tyr realm, fighting his way into the den of the master overmind and blowing it away.

Well, it's hardly major literature, it'll never become a standard text in a creative writing course, and frankly I'm unsure whether one should admit to reading it if one's over the age of twenty. But on the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed it's fast-paced action.

Prior to this book, I'd been laboriously working my through Poul Anderson's "Starfarers" and was actually beginning to think to myself that perhaps I was just getting bored with SF. (I do go through a few minutes of this every decade or so). But then an Amazon delivery arrived, so many weeks late that I'd completely forgotten it. Inside was this book. Pah! Bored with SF. It'll never happen, matey.

What's it got? No sex for one thing. It comes close a couple of times, but veers just when I thought we were in with a chance. Big, bad spiky aliens, ravening, rabid aliens, lot's of different aliens in fact. And vampires, well, sort of. And let me tell you (beginning to rave here) that the growing realisation in the early part of the book was excellently tantalising, and the vampire stuff was most wonderfully done. Of course, I've always had a fondness for vampires, and vampires were quite fashionable in the early nineties. Generally though it's the movies rather than books that get me. I remember me and my mate Mike Marsh knocked out by "Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht", astounded that Klaus Kinski, portraying such undead ugliness, could have such a superbly stunning daughter, Natasha.

In later and more cerebral years, of course, "Lost Boys" and "Vampires" were more my style. And what about Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula" remake of the early '90s - tasteful, indeed.

Oh yeah, and the book also has faster than light travel, isolated colony worlds, and humankind's valiant and last-ditch fight against the truly repulsive group-mind aliens, the Tyr, conquerors of Earth.

Now you know.

Loaded on the 10th December 2001.
Cover of The Madness Season
Cover art by Michael Whelan

Reviews of other works by C. S. Friedman:
Black Sun Rising
This Alien Shore

Reviews of other works with covers by Michael Whelan:
Black Sun Rising
This Alien Shore
Tangled Up In Blue
Beowolf's Children