Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Heaven's Reach

By David Brin

The third novel of the second Uplift trilogy in which the Streaker leaves Jijo and attempts to outrun the Jophur in order to reach the Retired Races and turn their information over to what they hope will be an impartial party. This information is why the Jophur and other races have been trying so hard to capture the Streaker. They think it will reveal hard truths about the universe and its ultimate fate.
But when the Streaker arrives at a star around which is a settlement of the Retired Races, it is to only find calamity. The Retired Races are up in arms, battling against each other and their entire gigantic settlement is breaking apart and falling into the star. Some factions of the Retired want the vital data on board the Streaker but others want the Streaker to continue on. Those ones give Streaker a just enough help to enable them to stay one step ahead of the Jophur vessel.
The Jophur are having problems too. Their vessel has been attacked and invaded by the Zang, a hydrogen life form. What their agenda is is not known. Encountering two human prisoners of the Jophur, the Zang envelope the two and make them part of their community, with a peaceful exchange of ideas.
Meanwhile, something is seriously wrong with the universe, as transfer points become unreliable and dysfunctional. Apparently the disaster is upon them all and chaos is descending.  Who will survive?

This was an OK read. I was sorry to see the story leave the interesting peoples of Jijo. I would have liked to read more about them. But this story is set in space, as the Streaker tries to stay out of the clutches of the Jophur and the universe has its own ideas. It was an interesting story, though, despite the change of locale.

Infinity's Shore

By David Brin

The second book of the second Uplift Trilogy.

The squatter races of Jijo face more danger as a huge Jophur vessel arrives, searching for the dophin-piloted, Earthling space ship, Streaker. The Jophur entomb the Rothen ship and start interrogating the locals as to the location of the Streaker. The traeki, Asx, is captured by the Jophur and converted to one of them with the application of a master ring and is now known as Ewasx. Ewasx  maintains control over the traeki rings that composed Asx through applications of pain and uses Asx's knowledge of the locals to benefit the Jophur.
Meanwhile the Streaker is still hiding on the ocean floor, trying to remove the heavy crust that enveloped their ship as it passed through the Jijo sun's field. This crust makes the ship too heavy and the crew is trying everything they can think of to remove it.
The group of four youngsters who went forth in a wooden sub to study the ocean floor are rescued by the crew of the Streaker but are held captive, since the Streaker folks don't want the locals to know they are on Jijo.
Meanwhile, back on land, Jijo society is in meltdown and under assault by the Jophur who think they can wring the location the of the Streaker out of the locals. But the fact is that the locals don't know anything about the Streaker. The Jophur think they are being deceptive and punish them by destroying some of their towns, In particular, they go after the g'Kek, who the Jophur obliterated from the known universe and who the Jophur hate even more than they hate Earthlings.
Despite their lack of sophisticated technology, the locals are not going down without a fight and they make some surprising inroads against the Jophur. Meanwhile, on the Streaker, they realize if they don't get off Jijo, then everything the Jijoans have built will be ruined by the Jophur and those who come after them.

This was a pretty good story, lots of stuff going on, lots of action and heroics as the most of the locals band together to stand against the Jophur.  Also interesting was the crew of the Streaker's disbelief that the various races on Jijo could have developed such a peaceful and productive society. Gradually they come to understand how things are and how their presence on Jijo in endangering it all. Sometimes it was hard to keep all the characters straight, with all the story lines to keep in mind, but fortunately the book includes a cast of characters.

The Face in the Abyss

By A. Merritt

Graydon and his companions are in South America looking for Inca treasure when they encounter a beautiful girl, Suarra. They have trespassed into the lands of the Yu-Atlanchi, a secret people who desire to remain secret. Graydon and his companions end up in a cavern where they must face Nimir, the Lord of Evil. Nimir was captured a long time ago in a huge golden face and he offers the men everything they ever wanted. Graydon is tempted but manages to resist with the help of the Snake Mother, a demigod that Suarra serves. The other men fall for Nimir's lies and he consumes them.
Graydon is lead out of Yu-Atlanchi but he can't forget Suarra. So he heads back and encounters a group of Yu-Atlanchi rebels. He is taken in by them and, through them, arranges to meet with Suarra. He becomes involved with the rebels' cause, and, as it appears that Nimir is trying to become human again, he joins with Suarra, the Snake Mother, and the rebels to fight against the corrupt Yu-Atlanchians who are allied with Nimir because Nimir doesn't just want to rule Yu-Atlanchi, he wants to rule the whole world.

I didn't really like this story. It just didn't appeal to me. I started reading it and then I left it for several months before going back and finishing it. It is very descriptive and I find descriptive passages boring. I need to be told every little detail of a scene.  I also didn't care for the Snake Mother, a creature half woman, half snake. An unsympathetic heroine, to say the least.

An Irish Country Doctor

By Patrick Taylor

Barry Laverty is fresh out of medical school and on his way to take up a position in a Irish town with an established doctor, Fingal O'Reilly. Ballybucklebo is a small rural town and Dr. O'Reilly is the only local doctor and it may be the perfect place for young Dr. Laverty to figure out if he wants to go into general practice or specialize.
Barry's first introduction to Fingal is when Fingal is tossing a patient out the door and into the bushes. Fingal is a big imposing man and apparently a little short tempered. Barry isn't quite sure he really wants to share an office with this man.
But he decides to give it  a few days and before he knows it, he is involved in the trials and joys of the small community, including getting to know a smart, local woman. As he copes with the demands of his new job and of learning to perform to O'Reilly's expectations and getting to know the locals, he begins to really appreciate Ballybucklebo, O'Reilly and all the interesting characters and patients.

This was an OK story. I have to admit that I stopped reading it for several months as I didn't really find it that interesting or engaging. The story ends with a big party, which was one of the best parts of the book. But, towards the end, O'Reilly and Laverty use information about a patient to blackmail another patient. According to the author, the ends justify the means, but to me it was a shocking and disturbing display of a lack of medical ethics.