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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street, East Providence, RI 02914


Destiny Doll by Clifford D. Simak, Berkley, 1971 

A really inane novel that feels like an insult rather than an entertainment. Four people land on an unknown planet for a series of very silly and generally dull adventures. There are sentient hobbyhorses - who all speak the same language as the space travelers, trees that shoot their seeds, bugs that encase visiting spaceships in impenetrable coatings, gnomes, doorways to other worlds, an abandoned city, and lots more. I interrupted this three times to read something else, and itís not that long a novel. The ending suggests that it is making a profound point but if so, itís completely opaque. 4/11/21

One Love Chigusa by Soji Shimada, Red Circle, 2020 

I have enjoyed two nice detective stories by this author, so I decided to try this SF novella. The premise is that the protagonist is so badly injured in an accident that he is virtually a cyborg by the time he has been reassembled. He has some difficulties adjusting to the world afterward because he has lost some memories and his senses do not work exactly as they did before. He falls in love with an unusual woman, and the big reveal is that she is actually a robot. An interesting story that has a distinctly non-EuroAmerican feel to it. 4/11/21

Into Deepest Space by Fred & Geoffrey Hoyle, 1974   

An incredibly lethargic sequel to Rockets in Ursa Major. The alien menace tries to attack Earth again, and naturally it fails a second time. Our hero and some of the good aliens embark on a space voyage during which they have some incredibly boring adventures and learn some not particularly interesting things about the hostile aliens. This reads like a space adventure written by someone who had never actually read a space adventure, which might well be the case. 4/6/21

Out of Their Minds by Clifford D. Simak, Berkley, 1970 

This is one of my least favorite Simak novels. The protagonist discovers that all the creatures of our imagination exist after reading a document that theorizes about this, and they decide to kill him by sending werewolves, sea serpents, and other creatures to kill him. He eventually meets the Devil, who seems to be on his side. The story wanders aimlessly with a long episode in a fantasy world with castles and the ending is wishy washy. Blending SF and fantasy does not often work and this was not one of the occasional exceptions. Unfortunately most of the authorís subsequent work was only slightly better. 4/4/21

The Inferno by Fred & Geoffrey Hoyle, Penguin, 1973  

In many ways this is a redo of The Black Cloud. A physicist discovers that a supernova is going to inundate the Earth with radiation. There are only days remaining, so preparations are minimal. Weather is disrupted, the oceans freeze, and most of the human race is killed. We are saved when some unidentified alien intelligence intervenes to reverse the new ice age and restore livable conditions. And the story ends there. The first half is almost entirely filler with a couple of subplots that never get resolved. Not remotely interesting. 4/3/21

Seven Steps to the Sun by Fred & Geoffrey Hoyle, Crest, 1970

Mike Jerome is struck by a taxi and wakes up in an ambulance, ten years later. He has apparently been missing during the interim. He spends the rest of the book going through several more time jumps into an increasingly repressive future. Along the way he somehow stumbles upon a mystery about the death of a friend. The details are completely bogus. He never has trouble with passports or other documents and his bank account is always readily available to him. This sort of gets cleared up when we discover it is all a dream, but by that point I had dismissed the novel as nonsense and a waste of time. 4/1/21