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Jacqueline Lichtenberg, POB 290, Monsey, N.Y. 10952
"Karmic Burden and the Millennium"
A Monstrous Regimen of Women by Laurie R. King Bantam Books pb. Mystery Jan. 1997
Tropic of Creation by Kay Kenyon, Bantam Spectra, November 7, 2000
Abandon in Place by Jerry Oltion, Tor November 2000
Farscape, the TV series on the Sci-Fi channel
Highlander, the TV Series
Angel, WB network Season Premier.
A couple years ago, I did an astrology chapter for a book about the Nostradamus prophecies -- a book that was never published. Only now, September 2000 do I see the materialization of what I had discerned via astrology.
As mentioned in the October column, my dear friend and colleague Joan Winston introduced me to the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels of Edgar Award Winning novelist Laurie R. King -- whose work I mentioned in the feminist version of my earliest columns for The Monthly Aspectarian, (www.simegen.com/school/workshop/IntimateAdventureFem.html ) and in the March 1994 column and then lost track of. (There's a lesson in that somewhere!)
At Worldcon in Chicago this year, Joan and I met at Jean Lorrah's reading, and I returned her copy of Laurie J. King's O Jerusalem and she loaned me a precious copy of A Monstrous Regiment of Women. Walking around the convention floor clutching the new book, I was accosted by people squealing or roaring, "Oh, I love that series! Are there going to be more???" I may as well have been wearing a Laurie J. King T-Shirt.
It was the same as at the Media Convention, Shore Leave where Joanie introduced me to this series. Everyone else knew about it but me. Scratch an SF fan and find a Sherlock Holmes/Mystery fan. And the answer is the same, "Alas, as far as I know, no more Mary Russell novels yet."
So you have time to scour the world for copies and catch up. You will want to read this series in order, trust me on that one. And yes, in its way it is Fantasy if not SF. The "Regiment" of women referred to is the archaic usage meaning rule, and this novel, as all of them, is about a young woman born way ahead of her time, and just suffering through the first years when women had the vote. Her world was not ready for a female Sherlock Holmes (but Holmes is).
After Worldcon, I found two galley proofs waiting for me, which is why you're getting word of November books in November.
Kay Kenyon is a writer I mentioned in the February 2000 column and again in the September column which can be found online. Those who like old fashioned, rich, deep, meaningful, First Contact sf told from multiple but well handled point-of-view should find this book worth it's $5.99 cover price (400 pages).
The book is not as emotionally satisfying as it is intellectually satisfying. We have an alien species with a very strange and different life-cycle -- and our humans get caught up in their political revolution. The solution to the war is the historical "fact" that these aliens seeded Earth with life millennia ago -- and therefore can interbreed with humans.
What has Sherlock Holmes to do with the origin of life in the galaxy? It's not the mystery aspects. None of Kenyon's characters are motivated to solve mysteries just because they're mysteries -- they're too busy surviving.
I see a connecting link between these two fictional universes which could be "ownership" -- rights of possession, and relationship/bonding as a function of an exchange of something valuable. (Astrologers consider that Taurus and Venus are involved in the Millennia prophecies.)
Also at Worldcon, I chanced upon another author doing autographing, Jerry Oltion. I hadn't met her before, and knew nothing of her work.
We exchanged business cards, and when I got home, there was the galley proof of her current novel, Abandon in Place which I read next. It's a hard-science, nuts-n-bolts sf story with sociological sf secondary themes. But wait until I tell you the premise.
The acknowledgement tells us this was a short story which Kristine Katheryn Rusch asked Oltion to expand into a novella which Rusch then bought for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF Mag), then encouraged her to see what the story could be at novel length.
In the section of the Writing Workshop at WorldCon which I had been invited to teach, we had three manuscripts to analyze which all had that same flaw -- they were the wrong length for the ostensible conflict.
The premise of Oltion's novel is in the dedication. "What would it take to make you believe in ghosts?"
A ghostly spaceship visitation at NASA leads three astronauts to ride to the Moon in such a ship, and return to splashdown in the old fashioned way. This captures the imagination of the world, which changes the future-history of NASA (especially with respect to funding and international cooperation) in a way that could alter the future of humankind (well, Earth-humans, anyway)-- but at a dire karmic price -- the dedicated lives of our intrepid astronauts, the explorers who have always led the way into the ghostly mists of the future.
In Oltion's novel, the astronauts first take something that doesn't belong to them (the ghostly space ship; the immense expense of running ground-control services for a Lunar flight) then -- though achieving fame and glory -- suffer legally reasonable consequences, and eventually reap the rewards of aroused public opinion -- i.e. they get another chance to risk their fool necks for the betterment of humankind.
Oltion has found a way to say, that the proper monument to the Millennium is exploration (Aries -- explore instead of war) and a resumption of our march to the far reaches of space (Territory=Taurus). The price (Venus) is high, but we can't afford not to pay it, in blood as we always have. Nothing valuable comes for free. (Grand Cross mid-Fixed signs.)
Then this morning I studied a repeat of an episode of Farscape which I had taped from the Sci Fi Channel. At conventions, I've done a number of panels with people currently working in movies and TV, and involved in the Sci-Fi channel productions. I've been watching Sci Fi Prime Time original shows which have been gaining attention from big name production companies who want to sell them projects now. Farscape is making an impression.
This morning I saw the episode about Dargo encountering a dying priestess of his own people. He performs a Rite with her which he believes was to ease her passing through The Gates of Death. (yes, Farscape, as nuts-n-bolts juvenile adventure as it comes includes many accurate Occult lessons as well as vast amounts of Intimate Adventure).
Instead of the Death ritual, the Priestess invokes to restore her youth. She thinks she's drawing upon Dargo's own strength, but instead, she draws on the life-energy of the Leviathan spaceship (a living organism) which aged catastrophically as her youth was restored. She has taken something she is not entitled to, at the expense of the innocent.
In Abandon in Place, we see astronauts taking something that they are not entitled to for the betterment of humankind -- to rekindle an idealism that they seem to be the final custodians of. In this episode of Farscape we see theft for personal gain, resulting not from malice but from a weakness of character that leaves the priestess susceptible to temptation.
With great (but understandable) reluctance, she gives up the life-energy she has stolen and restores the Leviathan to youth and health at the expense of her own life.
Meanwhile, two other characters, known for their thieving natures suffer personally from the circumstances created by the spaceship's sudden aging.
Behind this script, if you know where and how to look, you will see karmic scales becoming unbalanced and rebalanced at a personal cost, a price.
We saw some very similar things in the episodes of Highlander, The TV Series. The premise of Highlander was based in the concept of Life-Energy which was renewed or stored by taking the head of another Immortal. In the TV Series, however, that energy did not restore youth or extend life. It seemed the only use for that energy was in combat -- usually against another Immortal.
The dramatic conflict that made the series so fascinating was based in Duncan MacLeod's reluctance to kill anyone, even another Immortal who was trying to kill him. We have the same fascination these days with the modern Vampires (such as Angel on the TV show Angel).
Duncan MacLeod seemed to fear nothing except unbalancing the karmic scales by taking what was not his.
Since I'm out of space this time, we'll consider Angel, Buffy, Honor, and the Fixed Grand Cross in December.
Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg, POB 290, Monsey, N.Y. 10952
Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg,
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Reviewed by Jacqueline Lichtenberg