Ace, 1996, 289 pages, C$7.99 mmpb, ISBN 0-441-00372-9
My first meeting with Robert J. Sawyer was at Can-Con ’95, when I was hanging around the handout table. Enter RJS, asking “Hey is this the handout table?” Upon being answered in the affirmative, he proceeded to put a few of his own handouts there, then went to the dealer’s room to sign a few books.
At the time, RJS was to me the author of “these dinosaur books”. Still, the guy impressed me. Since his panel was one of the few actually taking place at this point, I decide to see what was that all about.
A month afterward, I had read all Sawyer books. Addicted. Unfortunately, nothing from Sawyer appeared since then… until now.
(In the meantime, a few things happened to Sawyer: The Terminal Experiment won the HOMer, the Aurora and the Nebula. To name a few.)
Starplex was bought full-price the day it appeared in bookstores. Damn the ten-percent discount, I couldn’t wait!
And my, my, my… It was worth the wait. I’ll let the 12-years-old part of my personality review the book for a while:
Gosh, wow! Zonkers! Sawyer RULES, man! I mean, totally incredible! Alien, time-travel, big explosions, space-fights, immortality, gods, end and beginning of the universe, dark-matter creatures, fun physics stuff, holy geezz! I thought my brain would explode and run down my nose! Like this is like very EXCELLENT, D00D! I’d buy copies for all my friends if my parents would give me the money!
Ahem. The reason I like Sawyer’s books is straight from the golden age (12) of SF: THIS is what it must have felt to buy a copy of a magazine with a new Heinlein story. THIS is the good stuff. THIS is the new Golden Age and it’s MY Golden age. My critical faculties go out of the window under the assault of Sawyer’s imagination.
If you don’t know about Sawyer’s books, well IT’S NOT TOO LATE! Starplex is his best yet, combining the original super-concepts with fair plotting and interesting characters. This book is easier to swallow than End of an Era, is more focused than Golden Fleece and doesn’t contain the potentially displeasing theological “edge” that The Terminal Experiment had.
The usual Sawyer “tics” remain: The hero is the same, down to problems with his relationships. The conclusion is also anticlimactic, especially after the wild ride that preceded. The prose is journalistic: Nothing wrong (I don’t mind,) but then again, nothing like -for instance- Dan Simmons.
Oh, and the blurb is as usual hopelessly wrong. (The blurb for The Terminal Experiment didn’t even mention the main plot of the story!) But don’t worry: You’ll get a better book than described.
The designer of Starplex’s cover should be shot, or at the very least very hurt. I don’t think it’s possible to intentionally do a worse cover than this one. (Well, okay, I could, but that’s not my point.)
In short: A treat for Hard-SF fans. Sawyer’s best book yet, and again a strong contender for next year’s awards. Might not necessarily win, but will probably be nominated for just about everything.