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Herds Paperback – May 11, 2011
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About the Author
Born in Philadelphia in 1947, Stephen Goldin has lived in California since 1960. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Astronomy from UCLA and worked as a civilian space scientist for the U.S. Navy for a few years after leaving college, but has made his living as a writer/editor most of his life. His first wife was fellow author Kathleen Sky, with whom he co-wrote the first edition of the highly acclaimed nonfiction book The Business of Being a Writer. His current wife is fellow author Mary Mason. So far they have co-authored two books in the Rehumanization of Jade Darcy series. He served the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as editor of the SFWA Bulletin and as the organization’s Western Regional Director. He has lived with cats all his adult life. Philosophically, he is an atheist. Artistically, he enjoys Broadway musicals and surrealist art. Learn more about him at his Web site, http://stephengoldin.com. Many of his books can be bought through his online bookstore, Parsina Press, at http://parsina.com.
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Top customer reviews
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This book (along with #1, Renegades of Time by Raymond Jones) seem to me to be the main reasons why Roger Elwood's attempt at a pulp 3-books-a-month series never took off. "Herds" is a competent (as they all are) piece of fiction but it is simply not very compelling. The story concerns two plot arcs - an up and coming political figure in San Marcos, CA murders his wife in anger and tries to hide it in order to become the county supervisor; and an alien from a far-off planet happens to be visiting the area telepathically and "witnesses" the murder and wonders what to do about it from millions of miles away. The lead suspect that the politico frames for the murder is the leader of a hippie commune in San Marcos, who pays lip service to the greater good of humans in large social groups (the back-to-nature commune which is compared somewhat unfavorably to Manson's cult). This outlook on civilized living meshs nicely with the alien's society which "Garnna" also lives in, also based on the idea of "herds" and a large "hive" consciousness that is greater than any individual.
That said, the story shifts back and forth, chapter by chapter, between the murder mystery/cop procedural in San Marcos and the story of Garnna trying to decide if he should intercede on this far-off planet to help serve justice, talking to counselors, his mate, etc. The stories are really not related until late in the book and the Earth-based procedural is not complex or well researched and fails to get beyond a rudimentary level of diversion. It is easy to surmise that this was originally a crime book taking place (barely) in the milieu of a commune that Goldin plugged some SF chapters into to increase the wordcount and make a sale to Elwood.
The writing is solid if unremarkable and delivers the least you might expect from a 60000 word monthly book series. Hits all the marks but does nothing to advance the genre. Other Laser books are more extrapolative of the futures they portray but this one was too blah and too early and feels a lot more like "filler" than #2 in a series should.