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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 2000 by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen

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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 in December 2001.

Two hundred years in the future and things are much the same as now. Charles Dunsmore and his graduate student Prudence Odingo make a major discovery inside the Sphinx in Egypt. A few years later, even stranger archeological remains are discovered by Prudence on Callisto

The Callisto evidence is of course disputed. As this dispute escalates will involve not only Prudence and Charles, but also her sister Charity and Charity's strange son Moses..

And of course, there are real aliens out there who are far, far more dangerous than a few ancient relics.

Egyptology and aliens! But it's not "The Mummy" nor some "Stargate" clone. The book takes something of a radical twist once you've curled up and gotten comfortable with the Egyptology.

I read this prone on the floor in a South-east Asian hotel, laid low by ice-cold air-conditioning (30C outside, and about -4C directly under the air-conditioning unit). I wasn't at my best, and the book is certainly better than I thought at the time. I need to reread it again soon to give it a more fair rating.

However, I still think that positioning it two hundred years is a bit excessive, fifty would have been fine by me.

I did like the way that Stewart and Cohen introduced all the characters and sub-plots step by step and then gradually wove them together. It felt almost formal, but worked very well. There is also a rather skilful control of pace. As the end of the book approaches, the plot begins to pick up speed and in the end rocket along quite niftily. Yes, that's all I mean by "a rather skilful control of pace". In fact I'm quite pleased with myself that I noticed a change of pace in the first place, and a skilful one at that.

I was also pleased to see such a high (but unusual) profile given to the Tibetans, in particular the young monk Nagarjuna, something surely sorely lacking in most SF.

What's it got? Travel to the outer planets and quite extensive intercontinental travel. aliens, asteroids, Triads and Tibetans, What more could you want?

Loaded on the 20th January 2002.
Cover of Wheelers