Spellsinger and The Hour of the Gate by Alan Dean Foster
... Well, perhaps not Tolkien, but I had the urge for alliteration in the title. Spellsinger is a fantasy series quite unlike any other. While the anthropomorphisation of animals is certain not a new thing, Alan Dean Foster has done something out of the ordinary with it here. To give you some idea, if you can imagine the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters in a fantasy setting, then you’ll have some idea of what to expect. Before TMNT was watered down for TV it was a quirky and edgy comic strip with a depth to the characters that adaption for the screen utterly destroyed. Hmm. That probably helps a total of one single reader of this review in understanding more about the novel. Ah well. :)
So what we have are animals with ... Read More
Alan Dean Foster(1946- )
Alan Dean Foster has written in a variety of genres, including hard science fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He is also the author of numerous nonfiction articles on film, science, and scuba diving, as well as novelizations of several films, including Star Wars, the first three Alien films, and Alien Nation. His novel Cyber Way won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990, the first science fiction work ever to do so. Foster’s love of the far-away and exotic has led him to travel extensively. He’s lived in Tahiti and French Polynesia, traveled to Europe, Asia, and throughout the Pacific, and has explored the back roads of Tanzania and Kenya. He has rappelled into New Mexico’s fabled Lechugilla Cave, panfried piranha (lots of bones, tastes a lot like trout) in Peru, white-water rafted the length of the Zambezi’s Batoka Gorge, and driven solo the length and breadth of Namibia. Foster and his wife, JoAnn Oxley, reside in Prescott, Arizona. Learn more at Alan Dean Foster’s website. And don’t miss Justin’s interview with Alan Dean Foster.
Spellsinger — (1981-1994) Publisher: In a world of sentient animals and humans, the hardheaded (and hard-shelled) wizard Clothahump searches across the dimensions for another kind of wizard to help defeat the looming threat posed by the armies of the Plated Folk. What he gets is Jonathan-Thomas Meriweather, part-time would-be rock guitarist and janitor, who finds that with the use of a unique instrument called a duar, he can perform magic by playing and choosing from his well-worn repertoire of rock. Trouble is, while the lyrics he sings may be righteous, the magic they spawn is all too often something else.
Spellsinger and The Hour of the Gate by Alan Dean Foster
The Adventures of Pip and Flinx — (1972-2009) Publisher: Moth was a beautiful planet, the only one with wings — two great golden clouds suspended in space around it. Here was a wide-open world for any venture a man might scheme. The planet attracted unwary travelers, hardened space-sailors, and merchant buccaneers — a teeming, constantly shifting horde that provided a comfortable income for certain quick-witted fellows like Flinx and his pet flying snake Pip. With his odd talents, the pickings were easy enough so that Flinx did not have to be dishonest… most of the time. In fact, it hardly seemed dishonest at all to steal a starmap from a dead body that didn’t really need it anymore. But Flinx wasn’t quite smart enough. He should have wondered why the body was dead in the first place…
Icerigger — (1974-1987) An omnibus is available on Kindle. Publisher: Stranded on a frozen and remote planet, Ethan Frome Fortune searches for a way back to civilization. Icy, desolate, and sharply carved by hurricane-force winds, Tran-ky-ky is a terrible place to crash-land. But a botched kidnapping aboard the interstellar transport Antares sends Ethan Frome Fortune and a handful of his fellow travelers tumbling toward the stormy planet. Stranded and cut off from civilization, the castaways struggle to survive. In this page-turning trilogy, Fortune confronts vicious predators (even the plants want to make a meal of him) and forges an alliance with a native Tran. As he searches for a way off Tran-ky-ky, he helps the Tran gain admission to the Humanx Commonwealth and learns about their troubled history. Just as Fortune accepts that he’ll never escape the harsh planet and acclimates to its relentless winter, he learns that scientists have detected rising temperatures in the atmosphere. This sinister change leads Fortune to a thrilling and unexpected final adventure.
Humanx Commonwealth — (1975-2008) Publisher: The peaceful inhabitants of the jungle planet Midworld must fight for their survival in this classic adventure novel from Alan Dean Foster. From the rich imagination of science fiction great Alan Dean Foster comes the story of Midworld, a Humanx Commonwealth planet that’s equally fragile and hostile. Covered by a lush rainforest, Midworld is home to a primitive society that lives in harmony with the natural world. But the arrival of an exploitative human company, whose workers know nothing of Midworld’s delicate ecosystem, sparks a conflict. Should Midworld’s villagers aid the humans or stand against them? The hero of Foster’s addictive page-turner, Born, decides to lead two humans across the perilous jungle. His choice propels Midworld toward annihilation—and leads him headlong into a battle for survival.
The Founding of the Commonwealth — (1999-2002) Publisher: In the years after first contact, humans and the intelligent insect like Thranx agree to a tentative sharing of ideas and cultures despite the ingrained repulsion they have yet to overcome. Thus, a slow, lengthy process of limited contact begins. Yet they never plan for a chance meeting between a misfit artist and a petty thief. Desvendapur is a talented Thranx poet who is bored with his life and needs new inspiration for his work. Venturing beyond the familiar, Desvendapur runs into Cheelo Montoya, a small-time criminal with big dreams of making a fast buck. Together they will embark upon a journey that will forever change their beliefs, their futures, and their worlds…
With Friends… — (1977-1992) Publisher: Willie Whitehorse could have been just another boozed-up guitarist, if it hadn’t been for his songs. Somehow they were different — they reached out and grabbed people’s souls. Now agent Sam Parker wanted a piece of the action. But when he had it, Sam knew he’d made a terrible mistake… a mistake it was much too late to correct… With Friends Like These… The aliens had returned to Earth after centuries because they needed allies. But after hundreds of years, they had no idea what they would be getting the universe into… and they soon found out! Dream Done Green. Pericles was a poet and a genius, who also happened to be a horse! Why Johnny Can’t Speed. A father could teach his son a lot of important things, but combat on the freeways wasn’t one of them… not when the kid was eighteen and too full of himself to survive. But revenge did have its compensations!
Damned — (1991-1993) Publisher: For eons, the Amplitur had searched space for intelligent species, each of which was joyously welcomed to take part in the fulfillment of the Amplitur Purpose. Whether it wanted to or not. When the Amplitur and their allies stumbled upon the races called the Weave, the Purpose seemed poised for a great leap forward. But the Weave’s surprising unity also gave it the ability to fight the Amplitur and their cause. And fight it did — for thousands of years. Will Dulac was a New Orleans composer who thought the tiny reef off Belize would be the perfect spot to drop anchor and finish his latest symphony in solitude. What he found instead was a group of alien visitors — a scouting party for the Weave, looking. for allies among what they believed to be a uniquely warlike race: Humans. Will tried to convince the aliens that Man was fundamentally peaceful, for he understood that Human involvement would destroy the race. But all too soon, it didn’t matter. The Amplitur had discovered Earth…
Angel Cardenas — (1995-2002) Publisher: In a collection of science fiction stories, top police officer Angel Cardenas must survive in a nightmarish future world where wealth and high technology mix with Third World poverty and street gangs.
Journeys of the Catechist — (1998-2000) Publisher: The three-volume Journeys of the Catechist is the quest of a hero who questions every person and animal he meets, in a world where the impossible is normal and virtue is the greatest weapon a champion can possess. Etjole Ehomba is a herdsman whose simple sense of honor demands that he fulfill the dying wish of a shipwrecked stranger. His promise means that Ehomba must walk the length of a world armed only with a bone knife and a sky-metal sword, crossing lands of unceasing peril, sailing an impassable ocean, vanquishing an unstoppable evil, and rescuing a woman he has never met for the sake of a dead man he did not know.No wizard or warrior would attempt such a mad quest. But a man who poses questions to everything he meets may find answers that no wizard could imagine…
Taken — (2004-2006) Publisher: Ever since his classic debut, The Tar-Aiym Krang, the first of the wildly successful Pip and Flinx adventures, New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster has captivated readers around the world. Now this writer of bold imagination and stunning originality has created an electrifying space epic set in a universe at once strangely familiar and starkly terrifying. Familiar because the universe is ours; terrifying because the human condition might soon be… Not so long ago Marcus Walker was just another young commodities trader in Chicago, working hard and playing harder. But that’s all in the past, part of a life half forgotten — a reality that vanished when he was attacked while camping and tossed aboard a starship bound for deep space. Desperately, Walker searches for explanations, only to realize he’s trapped in a horrifying nightmare that is all too real. Instead of being a rich hotshot at the top of the food chain, Walker discovers he’s just another amusing novelty, part of a cargo of “cute” aliens from primitive planets — destined to be sold as pets to highly advanced populations in “civilized” regions of the galaxy. Even if he weren’t constantly watched by his captors, Walker has few options. After all, there is no escape from a speeding starship. Another man might resign himself to the inevitable and hope to be sold to a kindly owner, but not Walker. This former college football star has plenty of American ingenuity and no intention of admitting defeat, now or ever. In fact, he’s only just begun to fight.
Tipping Point trilogy — (2010-2012) Publisher: In this first novel of a thrilling new series set in our near future, New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster reveals a place where criminals are punished through genetic engineering and body manipulation — and poses profound questions about what it means to be human. Given his name because radical surgery has reduced him to preternatural thinness, Whispr is a thug. In a dark alley in Savannah, Whispr and his partner in crime, Jiminy Cricket, murder what they take to be a random tourist in order to steal his artificial hand. But the victim is also carrying an unusual silver thread, which Whispr and Jiminy grab as well. Chance later deposits a wounded Whispr at the clinic of Dr. Ingrid Seastrom. Powerful forces have been searching for Whispr since he acquired the mysterious thread, and Jiminy has vanished. All Whispr wants to do is sell the thread, and when he offers to split the profits with Ingrid, she makes an astonishing discovery. So begins the formidable partnership between the Harvard-educated physician and the street-smart thief — as long as they can elude the enhanced assassins that are tracking them.
Many years ago, I cornered John Kessel at a fantasy conference just because I wanted to be able to say that I'd had a conversation with a writer and scholar I admired. Unfortunately for poor Kessel, I ran out of things to say to him right after, "I love your work!" I still have a reverence for writers that renders me tongue-tied in no time at all. Don't they seem like the most magical beings, writers? People who can come up with all that weird stuff right out of their heads?
Anyway, Kessel took pity on me and started talking about how much he loves short fiction. He named authors and stories and magazines, filling my brain with notebooks full of mental jottings. Once I got home, I immediately started pulling out my back issues of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, subscrib... Read More
The November/December 2012 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction is a mixed bag. Some of the fiction is excellent; some is not.
The best story in this issue is Naomi Kritzer’s “High Stakes,” a novelette that is a sequel to “Liberty’s Daughter” from the May/June 2012 issue (about which I said that I hoped there would be sequels). The setting for the story is a fictional, near future group of platforms and decommissioned cruise ships and other floating flat places in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that serve as home for several groups who found existing governments distasteful. The narrator, Rebecca, is a high-schooler whose father has a position of importance, though we never learn exactly what it is. We do know that he is highly invested in keeping things as they are on the seasteads, and that includes bonded labor — indent... Read More
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Alan Dean Foster about his new book Predators I have Known. Mr. Foster is a highly regarded and best selling author with over 30 years worth of published material. He is considered to be a Grand Master of movie novelization. He wrote the official novels for some movies you might recognize like Star Wars, Aliens, Star Trek, Transformers, and many others. He is also the author of the popular Humanx Commonwealth novels, as well as the fantasy series Spellsinger. He is a prolific traveler and explorer, drawing inspiration for his stories f... Read More