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     Volume 4 Issue 35 | February 25, 2005 |

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The Sci-Fi World

Sanyat Sattar

The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger
Harcourt; July 2004
(Format: Paperback, 560 pp)

Young lovers often believe themselves crossed by fate or by time, but those in Niffenegger's spirited first novel have more reason than most. Henry suffers from Chromo-Impairmenta quasi-medical condition that catapults him, unwillingly, from one random point in time to another. Clare first meets him in 1977, when she is six and he materialises near her parents' garden as a thirty-six-year-old from 2000; he returns regularly throughout her childhood from different times in their shared future. At last, when Clare is twenty and Henry twenty-eight, they meet in his present, and the relationship begins in earnest. But romance proves even trickier than usual when one person keeps vanishing to distant, and occasionally dangerous, times. Niffenegger plays ingeniously in her temporal hall of mirrors, but fails to make the connection between the lovers as compelling as their odd predicament.

Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil
James Luceno
Ballantine Books, Inc.; January 2005
(Format: Hardcover, 352 pp)

No longer a Padawan apprentice, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker accompanies Obi-Wan on a galaxywide search for the mysterious Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, in an attempt to put an end to his evil schemes. As Supreme Chancellor Palpatine's emergency powers grant him a stronger hold over the political reins of the Republic, the Separatists, led by former Jedi Count Dooku, look to the Sith for support. Anakin and Obi-Wan weave their way through a tangle of intrigue and battles only to find that each clue leads to another. Luceno crafts a tale of adventure and bridges the time line between the events of George Lucas's films, "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" and "Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" (scheduled for release May 2005). Spot-on characterisations of familiar series characters and a genuine feel for the space opera genre makes this a strong addition to the series.

The Year's Best Science Fiction
Gardner Dozois (Editor)
St. Martin's Press; July 2004
(Format: Paperback, 665 pp)

With stories that run the gamut from alternate history to strange admixtures of Science Fiction and fantasy to bizarrely inexplicable worlds, and with authors ranging from big names to first-timers, Hugo-winner Dozois shows off the dazzling range of the genre in his annual compendium. Several authors deal with the loneliness of humans in the galaxy. In William Barton's "Off on a Starship," young Wally accidentally leaves Earth on an automated spaceship, only to discover that there are no other people out there-and when he finally comes home, it's not as a boy but as a god. Walter Jon Williams's bittersweet "The Green Leopard Plague" explores the economic and social consequences of conquering world hunger. Geoff Ryman's timely "Birth Days" follows a gay researcher as he finds a way to "cure" homosexuality, with unexpected results. Other standout stories include Kage Baker's rollicking "Welcome to Olympus, Mr. Hearst," where the Company takes on Hearst, and loses; and Michael Swanwick's fantastic "King Dragon," where the dragon's lackey strikes back. This hefty tome has enough content for a summer of reading, and the range of stories indicates that Science Fiction still doesn't know the meaning of the word "boundaries."



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