- Paperback: 228 pages
- Publisher: Hadley Rille Books (November 9, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0984967087
- ISBN-13: 978-0984967087
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,704,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Buffalito Buffet Paperback – November 9, 2012
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Then I read one of the stories. And I was blown away by how good it was.
This is not your typical science-fiction series. The author is an expert in cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics, so rather than relying on futuristic ships, weapons and battles (though there are still a bit of those included), the stories involve many different aliens - each with their own unique physiology, culture, and psychology. Space operas are my favorite kind of SF - but I found these stories to be SO incredibly interesting, with their insights into memory and psychology, and unique plot twists.
Like the author, the main character, "The Amazing Conroy", is an accomplished hypnotist - who performs all over the universe with extremely interesting results, when aliens are involved.
Also like the author, Conroy is a devoted gourmand - so the stories also contain tantalizing descriptions of fantastic culinary creations.
This book is an anthology of most of the Buffalito short fiction. It provides a good basis for the "Adventures of the Amazing Conroy" novels (#1 - Buffalito Destiny and #2 - Buffalito Contingency), and I recommend reading this *before* reading the novels.
* Buffalo Dogs - A poverty-stricken hypnotist trying to redeem his finances gains a buffalito companion, Reggie.
* Buffalogenesis - Conroy founds his Buffalogic empire of buffalitos, gets very rich, and manages to not get his arms cut off.
* Barry's Tale - Conroy and Reggie save the life of a very special little girl - while sampling spectacular intergalactic barbeque.
* A Buffalito of Mars - The red planet gets a terraformed atmosphere courtesy of the buffalitos - and Conroy has an alien encounter which he uses to enrich humankind.
* Requiem - A young, impoverished Conroy becomes "The Amazing Conroy" - and helps an alien friend to acquire immortality.
* Telepathic Intent - Conroy meets the love of his life, is charged with murder, and has to solve the mystery to save himself.
* The Matter At Hand - Conroy enlists the assistance of a gambler extraordinaire to defeat a telepathic alien in an exceptionally high-stakes card game.
* Yesterday's Taste - Conroy helps a friend recreate the recipe for a legendary dish with an hypnotic sleight-of-hand.
It's hard for me to imagine *anyone* not enjoying this series.
Each of the eight stories in the collection stands on its own, and together they paint a colorful portrait of a universe, a man, and an impossible creature that's consistently fun and engaging, and often quite compelling. The writing is light and breezy, and the primary note is always humor, some of it clever and subtle, some of it outrageous and over the top. Under that, though, you'll find surprises that sneak up on you. Things get surprisingly real in Barry's Tale, and Requiem is quite touching.
Conroy's universe can be ridiculous - this is definitely not hard SF - but it makes sense in its own way, and Schoen describes it so vividly you can imagine yourself there. He uses it, in the way of much good SF, to explore ideas about being human. He's particularly interested in consciousness and identity, as befits a cognitive psychologist as author and a hypnotist as protagonist. It can be a messy place at times, this universe, dark and dangerous, but things seem to come out right in the end. The bold optimism reminds me, more than anything, of the original Star Trek. Captain James T. Kirk would be right at home facing Conroy down over some improbable plot, and equally at home sharing a Romulan Ale with him after a long day.
Even though I said "goofy," I never felt that the author was bending the rules at the last second, just to get the hero out of trouble. Once the author has told us something about this universe, no matter how crazy, that continues to be a feature of the universe. And it just might be important to the hero's next crazy scheme.
I would rate all the stories in this collection PG. All the stories have happy endings. I would be quite comfortable seeing this book in a middle-school library, and adults looking for light reading will enjoy it, too.