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And after the hero "wins," what happens next?,
This review is from: Wizard (Gaea) (Mass Market Paperback)
In a way, this is John Varley's "Lawrence of Arabia:" After her great success at the end of "Titan," Cirocco Jones is now something more than human, a hero on Earth and the "wizard" of Gaea. Of course, this isn't a fairy tale, and living up to all that an insane alien "goddess" has put on her shoulders is too much for anyone, even a hero.
And that's the set-up for "Wizard," the second of three books in the Gaia Trilogy. Whereas the first story was an exploration adventure in the "Rendezvous with Rama" mold, and the third story ("Demon") invites comparisons to the "Star Wars" movies, "Wizard" is an odd little story that mixes a classic fantasy quest to redeem a fallen hero with science fiction action that is inspired (both by the author and the characters involved) by World War II movies.
Along the way, Varley flexes his imaginative skills again, outdoing the weird alien creations of "Titan" with even more genetically engineered wonders and monstrosities, many of which stick in the imagination long after the book has been put down: I can never think of a buzz bomb in the same way again, nor a blimp, an angel or centaur.
There will be some who find this book, like the others in this series, a bit too racy for them: One of Cirocco's chores is to be part of the breeding cycle for one of the alien species, although not in the way one might expect. It's a great character bit, an interesting bit of xenobiology and a good plot engine. It's also blantant sexuality, so this book isn't for those who are uncomfortable with such stuff.
For the rest of us, though, "Wizard" is an amazing book, chronicling the rise of a fallen hero through an amazing alien landscape that's easily one of the most interesting settings speculative fiction has ever produced.
A must-read for adult (or adult-minded) science fiction and fantasy fans.