Return to K-Mac's home pageThe Portable Universe 16
by Michael P. Kube-McDowell

originally published in The Elkhart Truth
February 2, 1985

Few SF writers have ever made more impact with their early appearances than David Palmer, whose first and second stories (novellas appearing in "Analog" magazine) both garnered nominations for science fiction's top awards. Those works form the nucleus for "Emergence" (Bantam, $2.95 paper), an account of an odyssey by precocious, intelligent young Candy Smith-Foster through an America shattered by biological war.

Candy is not only a survivor but a mutant member of an emerging new species of humankind, and much of the story is related in her clipped diary style. Memorable characters and a fresh vitality enrich this fine first novel.

TO BE CONTINUED. "Raphael" (Bantam, $2.75 paper) brings to a close R.A. MacAvoy's well-received historical fantasy trilogy focusing on Damiano Delstrego...Sydney J. Van Scyoc's seductive science fantasy "Starsilk" (Berkley, $5.95 trade) brings the background story of the previous two volumes into the foreground for a satisfying denouement.

Robert Jordan's "Conan the Victorious" (Tor, $6.95 trade) keeps alive the heroic figure created by Robert Howard in the 1930s (and nearly killed off by two recent mind-deadening movies)..."Enchanters' End Game" (Del Rey, $3.50 paper) closes the door on The Belgariad, David Eddings' five-book saga of sorcery and prophecy.

THE YEAR OF DUNE, PART II. Joan D. Vinge's "The Dune Storybook" (Putnam, $6.95) is the first of several titles tied directly to the Christmas release of the film based on Frank Herbert's classic series. The book's many photos have a nice otherworldly quality, but reducing Frank Herbert's 500-page epic to a 60-page sketch is asking too much, even of a writer of Vinge's considerable talent.

The travails of filming in Mexico, the star who loved "Dune" as a teen, and the director who had never read it are the major players in "The Making of Dune" (Berkley, $5.95) by Ed Naha. Dedicated to "the ticket buyers," the book is a heavily illustrated look at a film which, hit or flop, will be remembered as both expensive and ambitious.

YONDER THERE BE DINOSAURS. After six years, Anne McCaffrey, best known for her Pern novels and their flying, Thread-fighting dragons, has finally returned to the world Ireta on which she stranded a survey team in "Dinosaur Planet." In "Dinosaur Planet Survivors" (Del Rey, $2.95 paper) the leaders of that expedition find themselves almost all alone in their fight to save the native life forms from a mutineer-spawned colony.

Ray Bradbury's love for dinosaurs, awakened in youth and incomparably expressed ever since in his poetry and prose, comes through clearly in the slim volume "Dinosaur Tales" (Bantam, $2.50 paper). Illustrated with line drawings by Gahan Wilson, William Stout, and Steranko, "Dinosaur Tales" brings together all of Bradbury's writings on the subject, including the genesis for the film "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms."

THE GOOD DOCTOR. In the wake of his consecutive hardback best-sellers "Foundation's Edge" and "The Robots of Dawn," Del Rey is flooding the bookracks with reissues of Isaac Asimov's earlier works. Among the reissues are nearly all of the famous robot stories, including the outstanding collection "I, Robot" and the Lije Baley-Daneel Olivaw novels "The Caves of Steel" and "The Naked Sun" (all $2,95 paper). Also welcome are the reappearances of "Nightfall and Other Stories" ($3.50 paper), most particularly for its title tale, and the compelling time-travel novel "The End of Eternity" ($2.95 paper), one of my enduring favorites.

-- Michael Kube-McDowell is the author of the SF novel "Emprise," to be published in June by Berkley.

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Created: 12 March 2005
Last Revised: 07 July 2009