Saturday, July 07, 2007

Churning of the Land: Oisin McGann, Under Fragile Stone. O'Brien Press: Dublin, 2005.

A sequel to The Harvest Tide Project it stands effortlessly alone. Taya and Lorkrin Archisan are teenage shapechangers and in this book they move from mischevous to mildly resentful and striving for independence. It's a bad time to do this as the local empire has invaded and is threatening to mine the local holy mountain.

The Empire imports a priest to exorcise the mountain (which is resisting the miners) with disatrous effects. Taya and Lorkrin's parents are trapped in a rockfall along with some of the miners. The story then splits in two, with Taya and Lorekrin accompanying their uncle on a searchabove ground for cave entrances while the survirors of the rockfall work their way through the mountain.

Both groups encounter new people and the end comes when Taya and Lorkrin convince their companion, Rug, that he is the god of the mountain, driven out by the exorcism.

This is proper, secondary world science fiction in the tradition of Jack Vance. While the characters are fun, increasingly it is the planet that is the her

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

S.African Visions: Jenny Robson, The Denials of Kow-Ten. Tafelburg Publishers Ltd.: Cape Town, 1998.

The first part of the book is told from the point of view of four or five different people, watching the celebration of the millenium and fearing the violence endemic in S. Africa. There is a hint that someone is about to do something about it.

In the second half we are in a domed community set in a forest and Shiyne is watching a lion. It's not a very bright lion, it keeps stepping in a pot hole and getting a shock. Shiyne wants to know why. Shiyne wants to know lots of things. Many of them are things his teachers don't want him to think about and he is getting into more and more trouble at school. One day, in his curiosity about things he is not supposed to think about he ends up on the outside of the compound and sees for the first time the large black wall around it, the weather towers and the localised weather that means water falls only on his city, and not on the land around it. Which has people. And they are angry with him.

Shiyne discovers through these people the history of his world. The adotopion of Atlas Shrugged as a sacred text, creation of the enclaves, the destruction of the infrastructure outside and the degree to which the life he lives inside is artificial, created by holocasts. He goes back inside with a message for the leader of the dome from his twin brother, but he has an accident and while asleep his memory is wiped.

At the end we are left with the possibility that Shiyne is a sleeper and that things may change in the future.

Rather a good book: completely unoriginal but to be prized for excellent execution.