Tag Archives: Identity

Bell, Odette C.: A Plain Jane 3 (A Plain Jane) (2012)

Plain Jane - 3
Cover art Stock photos:
Earth from Space: Dean Neitman
Fashion woman: Romangorielov
Realistic planet: Merydolla
Alien Desert Canyon in the Clouds: Algol
Sunset in alien planet: Frenta
Licensed from Dreamtime

We now come to the final installation of the A Plain Jane trilogy.

At the end of A Plain Jane II Jane had been called before the Senate to defend herself against the allegations made by Senator Cooper. He had charged her with treason and wanted her stripped of all rights given to her by the Galactic Senate. Things took a bizarre twist and the Senate realised what was really going on with Senator Cooper. This is where II left off – With the Senate in complete disarray and Jane falling.

What a thriller, what a thriller ;). All joking aside, what follows in A Plain Jane III is in fact an example of how excellent writing can draw the reader in. Odette C. Bell does action well. She(?) has all the way through the trilogy.

We get any and all questions we might have answered. What the Darq are is one example. The Paran technological superiority also gets explained. And, finally, we find out whether or not Jane manages to keep the Darq from destroying the Galaxy as she knows it.

Some of the story is downright silly, but you know, that is just part of the fun of reading. In some ways A Plain Jane is a soap opera, but in others it is a fantastic action story taking a person (Jane) through one identity crisis after the other. Not only Jane has to come to terms with who and what she is. Lucas is also having to admit a few unpleasant truths about himself and is going to have to figure out exactly what he is made of.

So, Yeah! I think I can wholeheartedly say that I have found Odette C. Bell’s entry into my life entirely charming in the good-old fashioned US way.

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My reviews of A Plain Jane I and A Plain Jane II

Foster, Alan Dean: Pip and Flinx series

The Pip and Flinx series has spanned 35 years which is quite a long time to follow a series. Alan Dean Foster has written a typically young adult series. They are quite innocent and free of explicit sex and violence. I guess you could say that the Pip and Flinx series is fairly wholesome. Thankfully, Flinx is no angel. He is, however, a good person – for a given definition of good.

The series begins with Flinx as a child on the Planet Moth and ends with Flinx as an adult on the planet Cachalot. He has had many adventures travelling around the galaxy trying to figure out who and what he is. We are in the science fiction world with loads of drama and very little realism. I guess that is part of the charm of the series. Sometimes there is more fantasy in science fiction than there is in fantasy itself. All in all, the Pip and Flinx series has been an enjoyable journey. In spite of the writing being fairly average a lot of the time, I got caught wondering how the whole thing was going to resolve itself.

Flinx (later discovers his name is Philip Lynx) appears for the first time in For Love of Mother Not (1983). For Love of Mother Not was written after the first three books in the series, but for you as a reader it would be a good idea to read For Love of Mother Not first as it explains Flinx’ background.

At the time of For Love of Mother Not, Flinx is not aware of who he is or where he is from. On the planet Moth Mother Mastiff buys Flinx at an auction and raises him as her own. It does not take long for them to discover that there is something unusual about Flinx, and both decide that it is a good idea to keep Flinx’ erratic abilities under wraps.

One night Flinx wakes hearing an emotional distress signal. His empathic abilities are reading loud and clear for once. He goes out into the rain to see who is in trouble and discovers an Alaspin dragon that he names Pip. We never find out how Pip ended up on Moth, nor is it all that important. Pip’s venomous spitting abilities come in handy when the two of them go after Mother Mastiff and her kidnappers.

After having read For Love of Mother Not you go back to the original reading order. Because For Love of Mother Not was written so much later than The Tar-Aim Krang (1972) you will probably notice a couple of discrepancies. You will survive, believe me.

As The Tar-Aim Krang begins Flinx and Pip are still with Mother Mastiff on Moth. They discover a treasure map on a dead man. Flinx meets Bran Tse-Mallory (human) and Truzenzuzex (thranx) for the first time, while acting as their guide. Flinx and Pip end up travelling with the two to the Blight. To get there, they need to go by space-ship. Flinx’ empathic abilities will play an important part in the group’s discoveries.

Foster is not big on explanations of how Flinx and the rest travel from one solar system to another. To him the plot is the important part. Flinx and Pip’s interactions with others and their adventures are what drives this story up, up, up and away.

Flinx is still searching for clues to his ancestry in Orphan Star (1977). During his unwilling stay with the merchant Conda Challis, Conda hinted heavily about Flinx’ parentage. Flinx’ chase brings him into contact with the female Thranx, Sylzenzuzex, who just happens to be the niece of Truzenzuzex. Eventually, the pair of them end up on the edicted planet Ulra-Ujurr, where they meet a highly telepathic race (Ulra-Ujurrians).

Flinx and Pip now have their own space ship – Teacher – making the search for Flinx’s parents a whole lot easier. On their way they acquire a new pet by the name of Abalamahalamatandra (Ab for short). In The End of the Matter (1977) Bran and True turn up out of the blue looking for Ab. What a coincidence. That is the way it is with some authors. The coincidences line up. The human Skua September tells Flinx something of the Meliorare Society and the Qwarm (assassins) are sent after Flinx. Each book takes us a step closer to the end of Flinx’s search.

Love is in the air. Flinx in Flux (1988) shows us a new side of Flinx. I’m hopelessly in love with you, he tells Clarity Held. It cannot be, I’m an experiment. OK. So I exaggerate a bit. But he did tell Clarity Held that due to his experimental state, he felt that the two of them could not be an item. Trouble appears on the horizon in form of Clarity’s boss. He wants what Flinx has, even if he has to kidnap him. But Flinx has these strange abilities, and it might be a bad idea to be mean to him.

By now there are a whole lot of people who want to get to Flinx. There are the authorities who want him for various crimes. The Qwarm want to assassinate him and a few criminal bosses want to use Flinx. As we enter the world of Mid-Flinx (1995) Flinx has become quite a popular person. Maybe the saying “All PR is good PR” isn’t all that correct. To get a break Pip and Flinx go to Midworld. But breaks from trouble only happen to people who are not in adventure novels. On this semi-sentient planet Flinx and Pip learn to respect this dangerous planet, and also find that through this respect they have some protection when the baddies come to get them.

Sliding Scales: A Pip & Flinx Adventure By: Alan Dean Foster

In Reunion (2001) Foster once again throws his heroes Pip and Flinx around the galaxy in search of an answer to Flinx’s heritage. Somehow Flinx thinks that this will make his choice of saviorhood or not easier. Together Pip and Flinx discover more about the Meliorare Society, the eugenicists who experimented with Flinx and other children in their search to create the perfect human.

Due to the information they uncover, Flinx and Pip go to Aan space where the walking lizards live – enemies of both humans and Thranx. Once there, Flinx’s unusual abilities come in handy in uncovering information and keeping himself hidden from the Aan – who would like nothing more than killing a human.

In Flinx’s Folly (2003) Flinx discovers exactly what the Great Emptiness (mysterious force) approaching the Milkyway is. Getting that knowledge almost tore his mind apart, and he would like to avoid repeating the experience. Like all mysterious things, the Great Emptiness has its set of followers. The cult of the Order of Null is set on stopping Flinx permanently. Extinction of life is the goal to have it seems. Fortunately for Flinx, he has loyal friends who want to help him in any way they can. One of these is the love of his life, Clarity Held. I wonder if she really holds clarity.

Flinx is tired of the expectations and just wants to go somewhere peaceful to think. His AI-space-ship Teacher suggests the planet Jast. Jast is where the action in Sliding Scales (2004) takes place. As you’ve probably understood by now, the Pip and Flinx series isn’t so much about Flinx’s search for an identity, nor is it all that much about winning over the Great Emptiness. These books are mainly about the trouble Flinx gets into hopping from place to place.

On Jast three seemingly incompatible races live together in peace. The Vssey, Aan and humans live in apparent harmony though apart. When Flinx upon arrival gets attacked by one of the Aan, he loses his memory and ends up in an Aan artist community. A Vssey rebellion is in the offing, and Flinx and Pip get caught in the middle of it.

trouble-magnet-pip-flinx-adventure-alan-dean-foster-hardcover-cover-art

In his search for a super-weapon that might destroy the darkness, Flinx has problems with his space-vesse,l and the Teacher has to make an emergency landing on an uncharted planet. In Running From the Deity (2005) Flinx experiences for the first time what it is like to live without his headaches and his empathic abilities going haywire.

The prime directive of the Commonwealth is to not interfere with primitive species, especially when using technology. Flinx breaks that rule and ends up being worshipped as a god. These compatible beings aren’t any nicer than any other species, and two opposing sides on the planet both want Flinx for their own. This leaves Flinx running again.

In 1973 Foster wrote Bloodhype. Flinx appears in the latter half of the novel. In a timeline sort of sense this action and humor filled novel should appear after Running From the Deity and before Trouble Magnet.

Bloodhype is a powerful drug that addicts you the first time and kills you if you do not continue with it. A pretty good deal for the producers, I would think. Pip and Flinx end up trying to stop the Bloodhype industry and end up on the planet Repler. We get to meet the Vom and a revived Tar-Aiym Krang in psionic battle, with the Tar-Aiym Krang more or less on the Commonwealth’s side. So, drugwar and psionic battle make for an interesting scifi adventure.

In Trouble Magnet (2006) a group of street-kids need to be rescued several times by Flinx. Once again Flinx has been side-tracked from his mission to find a solution to the problem of the Great Emptiness. As such, Flinx’s visit to Visaria seems part of a tendency to delay the ending of the series. Flinx’s aim seems to be to see if there is still any good out there worth saving, but Foster did not convince me of those intentions. Not one of his better ones.

With Patrimony (2007) Foster is finally back on track, both in terms of the quality of his writing and with the storyline. Oh, well. What would writers do without faithful readers (or suckers as anyone else would call us)? Flinx and Pip go to the planet Gestalt to follow-up on a clue they received in Trouble Magnet.

In showing his face, Flinx has once again come to the attention of the cult of the Order of Null. This time they are not about to fail in destroying him. Flinx is tracked and finally shot down in a river. His native guide is severely wounded but Flinx and Pip are OK. They are discovered and saved by the native Tlel. Together dangers are faced and Flinx discovers what he has wondered about his father.

Flinx Transcendent (2009) is the last story in the adventures of Pip and Flinx, or the last three stories in one novel. The first part of the story sees Pip and Flinx on the Aan home world. Flinx’s interactions with a young Aan are well-paced and well written.

Flinx is once again with the love of his life, Clarity, and his two friends, Bran and True. Once again, the Order or Null are after Flinx, and he will need the help from all of his friends to survive their attention.

And finally, Flinx faces the Great Emptiness that is speeding its way across the universe towards our galaxy. Flinx still does not know how to defeat it, but fear not, a solution will arise.

And so our journey with Pip and Flinx ends, or maybe not. The Commonwealth is a large place, and while Flinx might not again take main stage, he might very well appear in a smaller role – at least according to some of the speculations out there. I for one am finished with the Commonwealth.


ADAPTATIONS

  • Tar Aiym Krang (2M) An experiment with sequencers by Mark Earll Music.
  • Krang (aka Tar-Aiym Krang) music group mentioned by Wikipedia.

Colfer, Eoin: Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl II
Artist: cat-cat (Catherine Wu)

I started reading Artemis Fowl  to my oldest son until he got into the whole reading thing himself. Once there, he took over and went through the books below. After I’d thoroughly brainwashed him, I set out to do the same with my youngest – first by reading to him and then through audiobooks. Audiobooks are a miracle for dyslectics. A dyslectic brain is just as brilliant as any other brain, it’s just the whole sorting letters into the right order thing that baffles them. Needless to say, I managed to convert my youngest as well. You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m a fan of Eoin Colfer’s creation of the less than legal character of Artemis.

Artemis Fowl II is the main character of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series. Artemis is a teenage criminal mastermind on the lookout for enough gold to restore his family fortune. He considers himself fairly wicked, but as the series progresses we see that there is plenty of good deeds to balance the bad. My kids loved all of the tricks he played on both his friends and enemies. We have not read it yet, but the conclusion to the series was released in July 2012 – The Last Guardian.

ARTEMIS FOWL (2001)Young Readers Choice Award 2004

Artemis Fowl Chinese cover
Chinese cover

Eoin Colfer begins our journey into the world of Artemis Fowl II in the novel Artemis Fowl. Some of the characters we meet will appear in all of the novels while some of them we’ll only see in a few of them. His faithful bodyguard, Butler is one of the characters that will appear again and again.

Artemis is 12 years old. His father is an Irish crime lord, Artemis Fowl, who has disappeared. Through research Artemis thinks he can prove the existence of faeries and when he tracks down The Book of the People he has his proof.

Artemis decodes the book – only natural for someone of his genius – and travels the world looking for locations for a magic-restoring ritual. They discover and capture Captain Holly Short who is out restoring her magic. Holly is then brought to Fowl mansions. The faeries are not pleased with Artemis and sends a crack team (LEP) to recover her.


A graphic novel adaptation was released in 2007. A film adaptation was reported to be in the writing stage in mid-2008, with Jim Sheridan directing.


AWARDS:

  • W. H. Smith Book Award
  • British Book Award
  • Whitbread Book of the Year Award: Shortlist
  • Lancashire County Library Children’s Book Award: Shortlist
  • Bisto Book of the Year: Shortlist
  • New York Times Best-Selling Series
  • Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Master List (2003)
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Award (2001)
  • New York Times Best-seller
  • Publishers Weekly Best-seller
  • Texas Lone Star Reading List (2002-2003)
  • Book Sense Best-seller
  • USA Today Best-seller
  • ALA Popular Paperback for Young Adults (2002)
  • Garden State Teen Book Award (2004)

THE ARCTIC INCIDENT (2002)

Disney; Reissue edition (April 27, 2010)

In The Arctic Incident, Artemis is a year older (13). We once again meet Butler, Captain Holly Short and Commander Julius Root.

Artemis is set up to take the blame for supplying contraband to goblins. When Artemis and Butler defeat the real baddy, the LEP decides to help Artemis recover his father from the Russian mafia. The rescue group is ambushed by goblins.

It becomes apparent that Opal Koboi of Koboi laboratories is involved somehow, leaving it to Artemis and Holly to figure out how to save the day – both for Artemis’ father and the LEP.


A graphic novel adaptation was released in 2009.


Book Magazine Best Book of the Year 2002


THE ETERNITY CODE (2003)

Cover art by Rowein

The story in Eternity Code happens shortly after the Arctic Incident. While Artemis has changed somewhat since the first book, he still loves to scheme and steal from the fairies. Artemis has created a supercomputer which he calls the “C-Cube”. It gets stolen and in the process Butler is killed. However, Artemis comes to rescue – along with a bit of fairy magic.

Artemis convinces the fairies to help him recover the Cube and they agree – but with one condition. Artemis is to be left with no memory of the fairy world.

THE OPAL DECEPTION (2005)

“Opal Koboi and her assistant” by Jisuk Cho

Our lovely Opal Koboi (from The Arctic Incident) has gotten away from the asylum where she was being held by the LEP.

She then sets out to revenge herself on Commander Root, Captain Short, Artemis and Butler.

Holly is desperate for help and turns to Artemis – against the wishes of the LEP. The only problem is that Artemis is left with no memory of the fairy world.

While Artemis likes to think of himself as someone who chooses to do bad, it turns out he is a softy after all. He is still full of trouble and deviousness, but it is difficult to come out of reading the book and not liking Artemis. Mulch provides all the laughs a kid could need.

THE LOST COLONY (2006)

“The Lost Colony” by Tanya Roberts

Artemis and Butler are demonhunting. He is somehow able to predict when a demon materializes. This comes to the attention of our trusted Foaly. This brings Holly and Mulch (who now have their own PI business) into the story.

In the meantime, there is trouble on Hybras (demon island where time is nonexistent). However, it seems that the spell holding Hybras in stasis is fraying and an answer to the problem is needed. Bullying is a favorite pastime, and No1 is one of the victims. He is convinced to come to the human world.

Right now, its glaringly obvious that everyone is going to meet – probably with a huge bang somewhere. The Artemis series does have a habit of loads of action and humor. Thankfully Colfer is keeping up the good work.

THE TIME PARADOX (2008)

The Time Paradox by Brittany

When Artemis’ mom contracts a fatal disease, Artemis turns to the fairies for help. Unfortunately the only cure to the disease is through the silky sefaka lemur of Madagascar. It is extinct. The last specimen was killed 8 years ago with the help of Artemis. Talk about the past coming back to haunt you.

Through lies and deception, Artemis gets the fairies to help him time travel. The goal is to save the lemur – hopefully for good. Holly and Artemis go back in time and need to avoid their younger selves.

Everything has a price, so too Artemis’ lies to Holly. Colfer portrays this rather well. He also brings up the issue of the cost of abusing our environment. I find myself wanting to preach here, but The Time Paradox does a much better job of illustrating the issue.

THE ATLANTIS COMPLEX (2010)

Cover art by iesnoth

One of the consequences of The Time Paradox is that Artemis is left with a clearer sense of responsibility toward the environment.

When Artemis unveils the Ice Cube – an invention to stop global warming – the fairies discover that Artemis has developed something called Atlantis Complex (including OCD, paranoia and split personality). Artemis has a break-down during the presentation. Holly and Mulch are left taking care of things, while Artemis is dealing with his episode.

In the meantime, Butler is on an adventure in Mexico. Artemis tricked into travelling to help Butler’s sister. Turns out it was a good thing after all.

Norton, Andre: Star Born (Astra series) (1957)

Star Born Andre Norton
1957 cover painted by Virgil Finlay

Star Born was written in 1957 and is the second novel of the Astra series. As such, you might expect it to be extremely dated. That’s the good thing about Andre Norton. Her focus is on the characters not on technology. Not that it would have mattered in the end, not really. I found Star Born among my books and discovered that I hadn’t read it. Shocker, but a pleasant surprise.

Our two main protagonists in Star Born are Raf Kurbi from Terra and Dalgard Nordis from Homeport. Like so many of Norton’s characters a rite of passage is what starts off the book.

Dalgard is the descendant of Terran escapees. Many generations ago they came to the planet Astra. There they found a race of people who communicated through telepathy. Telepathic communication is another of Norton’s favorites. These two groups learn to live next to each other in peace and with time the Terran stock evolve their telepathic abilities to the extent that they can communicate with the telepathic creatures on Astra. Dalgard is traveling with Sssuri, a member of the Merfolk, and his knife-brother. Together they are on a journey of exploration – rite of passage.

One of the deserted bases of “Those Others” is the goal of the two travellers. “Those Others” are the ancient enemies of the Merfolk and other creatures on Astra. In olden times the Merfolk were enslaved by “Those Others” but through rebellion they managed to hit the Others hard.

Star Born switches between Dalgard’s story and Raf’s. Raf has come from Terra along with a crew. Four of them set out to investigate some ruins that they had seen during landing. It turns out that they meet up with the Others. Raf is uncomfortable about this meeting. For some reason his guard is up. When they go with the Others to explore one of the ruins, they come upon Dalgard. Now the stories blend together and we get to see what happens when two young men hold the fate a world in their hands.

The newcomers from Terra display all of the classic symptoms displayed in meeting with aliens. Meeting as described in science fiction anyways as I do not know of any real life meetings with aliens. Fear, prejudice, and violence go together it seems in such situations.

Young adults are probably Norton’s target group. Most of her books are written for them. That is clearly reflected in the language. There is no swearing, graphic violence or sex scenes. Quite refreshing in a sense. While Star Born isn’t one of my favorite Norton books, it was an easy read.


NOTE: This title has entered the “Public Domain” and is therefore open to any publisher that wants to print it. Many “Print on Demand” publishers have started to release this title. This site has chosen to ignore these published versions and only concentrate on estate sanctioned materials.”

The Project Gutenberg has a complete version of Star Born for free – for those who are interested.


Star Born has been translated to:

  • German:  Flammen über Astra
  • Russian: Звездная стража [Star Guard]
  • Russian (in combination with The Stars Are Ours!) Астра [Astra]

Sources:


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