Katharine Kerr’s Deverry Series

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Year Title Notes
Act one: Deverry
1986 Daggerspell
1987 Darkspell
1989 The Bristling Wood – US title; issued in the UK as Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood
1990 The Southern Sea – US title; issued in the UK as Dragonspell: The Southern Sea
Act two: The Westlands
1991 A Time of Exile
1992 A Time of Omens
1993 Days of Blood and Fire
1994 Days of Air and Darkness
Act three: The Dragon Mage
1997 The Red Wyvern
1998 The Black Raven
2000 The Fire Dragon
Act four: The Silver Wyrm
2006 The Gold Falcon
2007 The Spirit Stone
2008 The Shadow Isle
2009 (not yet released) The Silver Mage
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Isaac Asimov’s Inferno

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Inferno is the second Asimov universe book written by Roger MacBride Allen. Much like Asimov’s Robots and Empire and Caliban, its what I will call an “issue book”. In Robots and Empire the issue at hand was that having a long life results in risk adversity and therefore the stagnation of society as a whole. In Caliban the issue was the over protection of humans by robots, and the ultimately corrupting nature of living in a society built on slavery (even of machines), as well as stagnation caused by the risk adversity of the robots themselves. In this second Allen book, the issue is the exploitation of the “new law” robots who ultimately become the new slaves in return for a chance at freedom later. This exploitation is a criminal offence, so of course they end up with a society in which pretty much everyone has dirty hands of some form.

Overall this was a good read, and probably a better book than Inferno. I certainly found it easier to read and more enjoyable. I read the majority of the book on a single set of flights between the US and Australia because it was such a good read.

Its interesting that the Amazon reviews for this book are mostly negative, and I can see the point they’re trying to make. There are certainly opportunities for Prospero’s psychology and the overall political situation created by the massive disruption of the society to be explored more. Additionally, the murder mystery is resolved very rapidly at the end of the book after crawling progress during the majority of the book. Then again, that’s just like Caves of Steel and Naked Sun, which both are resolved rapidly at the end of the book and gloss over issues which aren’t core to the story. I guess you can chose to tell a story many different ways, and just because Allen didn’t chose to tell it the way that the Amazon reviewers thought he should doesn’t make his choice incorrect.

[isbn: 0441005144]

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Isaac Asimov’s Caliban

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This is a “robot mystery” in the style of Asimov, but actually written by Roger MacBride Allen. Wikipedia assures me that Asimov approved the outline for this book, as well as the other two by Roger:

“Shortly before his death in 1992, Asimov approved an outline for three novels (Caliban, Inferno, Utopia) by Roger MacBride Allen, set between Robots and Empire and the Empire series, telling the story of the terraforming of the Spacer world Inferno, and about the robot revolution started by creating a “No Law” Robot, and then New Law Robots.”

Roger is an interesting author, and appears to have written quite a few books, with a strong tendency for basing them in other author’s universes. Its interesting to meet an author who is so seemingly willing to base his work on that of others.

This book didn’t strike me as well written as Asimov’s, but that’s a pretty high bar to meet. It should be noted that Amazon reviews disagree with me on this point. Its rendition is certainly competent though, and the story is a good one.

[isbn: 0441004822]

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Robots and Empire

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I find the newer Asimovs harder to read for some reason — I think it might be because they are more inclined to introspection that the earlier ones, but that might not be all of it. Overall I enjoyed this book, although I did find that I lost enthusiasm briefly in the middle. Overall, worth the effort though.

You can tell that Asimov was getting old at the time that he wrote this book, as he dwells extensively on the importance of living an interesting and worthwhile life, instead of necessarily a long life. Overall he makes the argument that this is what is wrong with Spacer society — life is so long that its inconceivable to take risks early in life that might shorten that life. Later in life its too late however, as you are by then trapped in your comfortable rut. Its an interesting concept, and one which bears further consideration.

[isbn: 0586062009;0345328949]

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Bill the Galactic Hero Series

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This series is a set of parodies of militaristic science fiction, and is excellently bad.

  • 1965: Bill The Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison
  • 1989: Bill, the Galactic Hero On the Planet of Robot Slavesby Harry Harrison
  • 1990: Bill the Galactic Hero On the Planet of Bottled Brains by Robert Sheckley and Harry Harrison
  • 1991: Bill the Galactic Hero On the Planet of Tasteless Pleasure by David Bischoff and Harry Harrison
  • 1991: Bill the Galactic Hero On the Planet of Zombie Vampires by Jack C. Haldeman and Harry Harrison
  • 1991: Bill the Galactic Hero On the Planet of Ten Thousand Bars by David Bischoff and Harry Harrison (was also published under the title: “Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of the Hippies from Hell”)
  • 1991: Bill the Galactic Hero: The Final Incoherent Adventure by David Harris and Harry Harrison
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