Metareview: Time Future by Maxine McArthur
(Warner Aspect, US$7.00, 446 pages, paperback; June 2001; ISBN 0-446-60963-3.)
Rating: "A-/B+": a richly-imagined SF mystery/space opera, and an impressive debut.
New author McArthur is off to a fast start in this classy CJ Cherryh-style space opera, which opens in media res and never lets up --
Earth is a very junior member of the Confederacy of Allied Worlds, a David Brin-esque organization where the senior Four Races control the high-tech goodies and call the shots. Jocasta is a war-surplus Station in a ruined system, given to Earth as a political sop, but Station Commander Halley is making lemonade from this lemon -- until the mysterious Seouras blockade the station. And no one can figure out what this fleetload of well-armed and (literally) slimy aliens really wants...
There are some first-novel rough spots here, but the characters are exceptionally well-drawn, even minor ones -- here's Helen Sasaki, deputy Security chief: "She is tall, shy, brusque, tenacious and inventive..." And small, rich details abound -- Halley is speaking: "I once went for three years without seeing another human... It was very... stressful. You have to constantly think... There's no autopilot. You can't trust your common sense, because you have nothing in common with anyone else."
There are loose threads dangling at book's end, but a sequel, Time Past, is promised for next year. I'm looking forward to it.
Maxine McCarthur, an Australian, won the George Turner prize for Time Future. She has lived and worked in the Outback, New Guinea and Japan, as well as urban Australia -- near-perfect preparation for her tales of conflict and intrigue among an amazingly mismatched menagerie of sentients.
...and more reviews of Time Future
Let us know what you think of infinity plus - e-mail us at:
support this site - buy books through these links:
top of page
[ home page | fiction | non-fiction & reviews archive | other stuff | A to Z ]
[ infinity plus bookshop | search infinity plus ]
© Peter D Tillman 20 October 2001