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Wizard (Gaea) Mass Market Paperback – May 15, 1987
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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.
Having said that, let me tell you that John Varley has written one of the great SF stories of the last twenty-five years. "Titan" (with its companion volumes, "Wizard" and "Demon") tells the story of Cirocco Jones and the crew of the NASA spacecraft DSV Ringmaster as they meet, are changed by and ultimately must fight Gaea, the living planet. The characters are vivid and well-drawn; Varley has justifiably drawn praise for his strong, realistic female characters.
Like Jack Chalker did in "Well of Souls", Varley gives us a powerful story of humanity lost and regained in the face of epic struggles. His reach sometimes exceeds his grasp -- especially in "Demon" -- but I recommend this trilogy wholeheartedly.
Whereas Titan was a very good explore the big space object novel as good as or better than Ringworld or Rendezvous with Rama, Wizard improves with some new characters and fleshes out Cirroco and Gaby from Titan.
Gaea, the living entity/world has now established an embassy on Earth and allows immigration/visitors a few generations after Titan. Supplicants in need of something from Gaea such as a disease cured are allowed to come to Gaea and she amuses herself by making them perform "heroic" feats to get the boon they wish.
We are introduced to two characters from Earth, a youngish girl from a space colony of lesbians suffering from a type of epilipsy, and a fellow with what seems to be multiple personality disorder. After reaching Gaea they join up with Cirroco and Gaby and the story really takes off.
All of the sense of wonder of exploration from Titan is still evidenced here, and is even more imaginative. However the characters struggling with their issues as well as the environment is what drives the story and makes you care what happens. Cirroco has become a functional alchoholic, Gaby remains the most normal but bears the scars of loving Cirroco.
Visiting the regional brains of Gaea allows the two visitors from Earth to develop their character while showing us more of the wonders of Gaea. Eventually we learn the visit is to sound out the possibility of a rebellion and the dramatic tension heightens.
Though the book provides full closure to the story, there is a definite hook to Demon which will make you want to move right on.
This is a fast-paced, fun read that is more than worth your while. I cannot believe I have waited this long to experience this bravura performance.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A terrific trilogy I first experienced decades ago now am rereading.Published 3 months ago by Allan Olexa
I read this book and "Gaea" after reviews saying that all SF fans must read it.
I plodded through the two books. The story is decent. Read more
A great follow-up to Titan! This is Sci-Fi reading at it's best. Continue the journey into the world where everything around you is a living thing and nothing is the truth. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Michael A.
I first read this series 20+ years ago. I wondered if I would enjoy it as much now as I did then. I certainly did! Read morePublished 16 months ago by QueenBeeJen