Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What if Animals Could Talk? The end of Kate Thompson's Missing Link trilogy.

I blogged Kate Thompson's Missing Link back in July, and was very much looking forward to the sequels.

The following is more of a book report than any real thoughts. Of the two, the third-and-final book is much more interesting sf. The second is, well, a middle book. I can't remember which critic it was who said that the middle book in an sf/fantasy trilogy will move the plot on precisely as a far as a glacier has moved in the same time...

In Only Human (2002) Christie sets out with Bernard (Maggie’s husband), Bernard’s son Colin who has apparently dormant fish genes, Danny who has Dolphin genes and Sandy who has frog genes and who Bernard dislikes looking at. The part is off to find the Yeti. Tina stays at home with Maggie.

This is the weakest of the three books just because it’s obvious that they will find the yeti, something important will happen, and they will return home. On the way Danny meets merfolk, and once home Sandy and Bernard come to terms with each other. Christie mostly learns how to deal with his brain damaged dog Loki, who is a lot smarter than they ever realise, in any of the books.

Origins is an utterly transparent story if you’ve read Tepper’s The Family Tree or Emshwiller’s The Mount but to be honest, I like this better than either of the these adult-reader books. Two strands:

In one the world closes in on Fourth World as the human world begins to die. The coup de grace is administered by an alien, trapped on earth for millennia, who needed a species to develop sentience and industry. Now it can leave, it takes the gift it had once given—the missing link gene Bernard had identified. Colin is the first affected but by luck the family is not, and crucially, because Bernard had hidden his work on the animals, the alien doesn’t work out that there are speaking animals (it cannot hear, so has not heard the evidence).. The family hide out and wait for it all to pass.

In the other Nessa a Cat and Farrell a Dog run from their communities when war breaks out. What they find out about themselves will complete the story of the missing link.


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