BABYLON 5 BOOK#4 CLARK’S LAW BY JIM MORTIMORE

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Copyright 1996.

The Narn-Centauri war has come to an end. The Tuchanq are a world that was conquered and brutally exploited by the Narn. With the Narn defeated the Tuchanq have overthrown their masters. Yet their world is hopelessly polluted by the Narn heavy industry and they need help from others. So a delegation departs for Babylon 5 to seek aid. Their arrival results in one of their delegation D’Arc going nuts and killing a human visitor. The alien is injured in the assault and loses her mental capacity. Effectively rendering her with the mind of child. Yet President Clark of the Earth Alliance pushes for her to get the death penalty. Soon Babylon 5 faces unrest from this decision as Captain Sheridan deals with the moral dilemma of following an immoral order.

So I guess it had to happen that a book would be written in this series I didn’t care for. The writer clearly is not a fan of the show. He probably got some material and maybe watched a few episodes but he clearly didn’t understand the characters. None of them seem like the characters in the series. Also he basically wrote a 279 page anti-capital punishment book. It was a very heavy handed and unrealistic look at that issue. Never a good thing when someone has an agenda instead of writing a good story. There is a sub-plot that involves G’Kar trying to assassinate Londo the Centauri ambassador but that seemed awkward too. The writer is an Englishman who has written some novelizations for British TV including Doctor Who. Otherwise his big accomplishments are being an award winning graphic designer and musician. Hopefully he didn’t quit his day job because I didn’t care for his writing. This was the first and only book in the Babylon 5 series by Mortimore.

BABYLON 5 BOOK#3 BLOOD OATH BY JOHN VORHOLT

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Copyright 1995.

Ambassador G’Kar gets a message from the daughter of Du’Rog. Mi’Ra has declared a Shon Kar or blood oath against G’Kar’s. Seems G’Kar framed Du’Rog as a traitor so he could gain a coveted position with the Third Circle. G’Kar decides to frame his own death in a shuttle explosion so he can return to the Narn Homeworld and set things right. Susan Ivanova and Michael Garibaldi are assigned as the Earth’s representatives for the funeral. They find a harsh world filled with extreme class differences. With his aid Na’Toth the four must navigate Narn society to make amends to the wronged Du’rog family without falling victim to the Shon Kar.

This is the second and last book in this series written by John Vornholt. Like his first one this was an interesting story that explored a world outside Babylon 5. In this case the Narn. A race that are very stratified by class and still mired in old blood feuds. I always enjoy when books based on TV series go outside the limits of the series and this one does. Our two humans are given another human who lived on the world as their guide which helps the reader explore this world. This book gives an excellent insight into G’Kar and Narn society. A well written book with plenty of action and a satisfying ending. Something I can’t say for all the books in this series.

BABYLON 5 BOOK#2 ACCUSATIONS BY LOIS TILTON

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Copyright 1985.

Susan Ivanova gets a message from her old colleague to meet with her. The guy doesn’t show but is later found dead. The man Ortega was also wanted by Earthforce for connection to a Mars separatist organization. A ruthless Earthforce investigator comes and accuses her of being in league with him. Now under suspicion Ivanova must clear her name. Her investigation leads to a link with pirates that are getting inside information on shipments of a valuable element. It soon becomes apparent that corrupt officials in Earthforce are part of this conspiracy. Now she must expose this conspiracy to save her career and the lives of herself and her colleagues.

The second book in the series is another very well done story. It was focused mainly on the character of Susan Ivanova but had plenty of time also with Garibaldi and Sheridan. A fun little mystery story. At first I thought that it was too soon for another story of a character wrongly accused and going on the run. But it was a completely different story from the first book. I thought the author had a strong grasp of the characters and this read like a good episode of the series. This was Tilton’s first and only Babylon novel. I think she did a good job and would have liked to see more of her.

BABYLON 5 BOOK #1 VOICES BY JOHN VORNHOLT

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Copyright 1995.

Psi Corps is having it’s annual convention. The site on Mars that was scheduled had to be cancelled after a terrorist attack. The next choice is Babylon 5. Only the terrorists follow them and another bomb goes off. All the evidence points to the resident telepath Talia Winters as the main suspect. So now Talia goes on the run to Earth. Hunted by the Psi Cops and Garibaldi the chase takes her to Earth and Mars. She soon finds out she is in the middle of a conspiracy by a private telepathy firm to take over the Psi Corps. Can she prove her innocence before she is killed by Bester and the ruthless Psi Cops.

I loved this series back in the nineties. So naturally I decided to check out the books being put out. This first one was an enjoyable read. Focusing on the character of Talia Winters and set in the second season. What I like about the books of TV series is you can explore more than the budget would allow on the TV show. So in this instance we get a look at Earth and Mars. Not to mention the Psi Corps. Vornholt did a good job of creating a mystery that keeps you guessing until the end. He has the characters down and clearly watched the series. This was the first of two he did for the series and both books were quite good.

TO THE VANISHING POINT BY ALAN DEAN FOSTER

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Copyright 1988.

Frank Sonderberg is a successful businessman with a growing chain of sporting goods stores. This summer he decided that for the family vacation to Las Vegas they should rent a motorhome instead of fly. Now with his wife Alicia, sixteen year old daughter Wendy and ten year old son Steven they are cruising through the Mojave. They come on a young woman hitchhiking out in the desert and stop to give her a lift. The strange woman who calls herself Mouse is a singer from another dimension. She is traveling to the Vanishing Point to sing to the cosmic spinner. She needs to sing to him otherwise the fabric of reality will descend into chaos. Soon the Sonderbergs find themselves at Hades Junction the gateway to Hell. Captured by fire-breathing cops they manage to escape with the help of a Navajo named Burnfingers Begay. They continue on and find themselves in an alien Las Vegas, a reality where everyone tells the truth and a nuked out Salt Lake City filled with mutants. Their Winnebago is now a mystical ride as they cruise down the Cosmic Road which happens to be Interstate 40. It takes them to the Vanishing Point and a final confrontation with the Anarchis. The fate of reality hangs in the balance.

I have been getting some new books lately and this was something that looked interesting. I really loved this book. It was an exciting read with an original concept. The characters all seemed to be fleshed out with their own personalities. The various realities were enjoyable with some humorous and sometimes quite disturbing. An enjoyable book that kept me interested from beginning to end. This would make a cool movie and I will have to check out more by Foster. In addition to many movie novelizations he has an extensive body of original work. I will have to check out more in the future.

WHEN THE TRIPODS CAME BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1988.

Lawrence Cordray is a fourteen year old who is one of the first to see the Tripods. While camping out in Dartmoor he and his friend witness one of the invading alien machines. It destroys a farmhouse and scoops up the farmer for dissection. The army destroys it along with the other two that landed in Montana and Kazakhstan. Mankinds first encounter seems to end on a very anti-climactic event. Only later a new TV show called the Tripods becomes popular around the world. It has a hypnotic effect on many people. Called Trippies they run away and form their own groups. When the Tripods land their are millions of Trippie followers that manufacture caps that enslave even more people. Laurie and his family are forced to flee England after that country falls for Switzerland. There they find shelter with his Swiss stepmother in a country free of the Tripods. It doesn’t last as the capped armies of France and Germany invade. Switzerland falls and the people forced to wear caps. Laurie and his family flee to the mountains to start a resistance to fight the alien invaders.

Twenty years after his Tripod Trilogy Christopher decided to release a prequel. A story that shows how the Tripods managed to take over the Earth. Now like any prequel you know the ending. Just like Anakin becomes Vader. Still you read a prequel to see how something started. This prequel does a very good job of showing how the Tripods first came to Earth and took over. How the resistance in the White Mountains came about. A good supplement to the original trilogy and very enjoyable.

THE POOL OF FIRE BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1968.

Will Parker has found out the plans of the Tripods. Now the resistance has to stop them from terraforming the Earth in four years. So they step up their drive to recruit the young uncapped. Will and Fritz, who managed to also escape the Tripod city, are assigned to travel through Europe and the Middle East. They eventually get involved with capturing a Tripod alive. Through an accident with the food they discover that the Tripods are vulnerable to alcohol. So three groups are formed to infiltrate the three Tripod cities. There they smuggle in a still and the ingredients to ferment large quantities of alcohol to put in the water. Will is part of the group in the German city. They succeed and turn off the mind control signal freeing the humans in that part of the world. The Chinese group also succeeds but the city in Panama is a failure. Airplanes the resistance has are knocked out by EMP. So an attack by balloons is mounted. Will’s friend Henry sacrifices his life to destroy the third city. So with the Earth free there is great promise for the future. Will it be a united front or one marred by division.

The third book in the trilogy is probably the weakest. It seems to read like more of a narration of the events then giving you a feel of actually being there. The first part sort of drags. Also the whole part of them sneaking into the cities and getting the Tripods drunk is a bit goofy. Still it gives us a satisfying conclusion to the story. The Tripods are destroyed and the Earth is free. It also had a realistic ending with the various nations of man going their own way. The end has our three main protagonists pledging to work to unite the planet. Christopher I hear is known for some pessimistic ending but I thought this one had an optimistic one. Leaves the reader wondering if humanity will get it’s act together.

Christopher would twenty years later revisit this world with a prequel. Which I will do next week. So see you than.

THE CITY OF GOLD AND LEAD BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1967.

Will Parker and his friends have made it to the White Mountains and the resistance group that lives there. In this future Earth where the Tripods now dominate. Will with two others are chosen to compete in the annual games in Germany. Three winners are taken into the Tripod city. Will with his friend Beanpole and Fritz travel to compete. Will and Fritz are two of the winners and are taken into the city. There they are assigned as personal slaves to a Tripod. The aliens are reveled to be huge reptiles. The high gravity environment ensures that the human slaves will only last for two to four years. While Fritz gets a master that likes to torture him, Will gets a kind master. The Tripod treats him like his dog. As his slave he finds out the history of how the Tripods conquered Earth. He also finds out that they plan to terraform the Earth in four years. Soon humanity and all life will be extinct. So now Will and his companion Fritz must escape the city to warn the resistance.

The second book in the trilogy gives us a look at the Tripods. Who they are and why they conquered Earth. They also give us a brief history of how they conquered the Earth. Seems they used TV signals to brainwash enough people to help them take over. Kind of an amusing idea. I always found this such a creepy book in how they have so successfully gained control of the minds of humans. The slaves are totally devoted to their masters and will actually go to The Place of Happy Release when they feel they can no longer serve their masters. The Place of Happy Release is where they kill and dispose of the slaves. I found it an interesting and unique idea to have the aliens conquer and control us my using mind control. The second in the trilogy is the best of the books. It was enjoyable, exciting and established the approaching threat to Earth.

THE WHITE MOUNTAINS BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1967.

Will Parker is a thirteen year old living in the English village of Wherton. Only he is living in a future where the Tripods now rule the Earth. When a person turns fourteen they are Capped by the Tripods. This makes people docile and obedient to the Tripods. Will has doubts about the benevolence of these aliens. Especially after the change that takes place in his best friend. One day a vagrant those that the Capping damages wanders to the village. Only the man who calls himself Ozymandias is actually an uncapped man. He travels looking for young recruits to join a resistance based in the White Mountains in Switzerland. Will decides to leave his village and join them after hearing the truth. He is joined by his cousin Henry. In France they also join up with a young boy who they name Beanpole. The three boys journey through the country and see the marvels of the ruined city of Paris. They have some adventures and manage to destroy a Tripod before reaching the White Mountains and the resistance.

Some thirty plus years ago I was looking for something to watch on a Saturday afternoon. At the local Ma and Pa video rental place I found the first season of the BBC adaptation on one VHS tape. I found it an interesting and enjoyable story so decided to get the original trilogy it was based on. This is actually an early YA series before they were known as YA. Teenagers in a future dystopia. A fascinating idea about aliens conquering Earth and implanting caps on them so they are obedient. John Christopher is the pen name of Sam Youd, an English writer with many post-apocalypse books to his credit. It is said that he has ending the world in every combination possible. I will have to check them out in the future.

The BBC series is available on YouTube for free.

DARK IS THE SUN BY PHILIP JOSE FARMER

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Copyright 1979.

It is fifteen billion years in the future. The sun is a black dwarf and the sky is filled with the debris of dying galaxies. Young Deyv of the Turtle tribe has no knowledge of his world’s fate or history. He has been ordered to leave in search of a new mate. So with his dog Jum and cat Aejip he sets out into unknown lands. Along the way a Yawtl steals his soul egg. He finds a woman from another tribe named Vana and a plant centaur named Sloosh that also were victims of the Yawtl. So they begin a quest that takes them across the world. Through strange lands with even stranger creatures and peoples. Through the ruins of the ancients. They first go to Feersh the blind witch that ordered the thefts. The quest takes them to an ancient alien known as the Shemibob in the jeweled wastelands. They soon find themselves looking for a portal that will take them to new world and escape a dying planet.

As a kid I loved the book The Stone God Awakens. Seeing this book I though it sounded similar. I was not disappointed in reading it. This is a fantasy passing itself off as science fiction. Farmer creates this incredible world with all sorts of strange creatures. It amuses me to think of humans surviving fifteen billion years later. Seems they managed to move the Earth so it wasn’t destroyed when the sun went nova and created a new sun using the moon. Of course humanity has gone through many ups and downs and now are back in a primitive state.

Anyway this was an epic story in scope and very enjoyable. I highly recommend it. I will have to check out more of the author’s work.