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The Bitter Guide to Science Fiction


It has been said you can never be too young or too thin (which isn't true, judging from the constant media barrage being hurled upon that Ally Mcbeal chick; not that it's unjustified-my sinewy thighs are thicker than her waist). What no one ever told you is that you can never be too bitter.

Welcome back.

First off, I'm gonna start with a happy smiley book. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett is one of his Discworld books (and I love them). However, have you ever seen the Wyrd Sisters cartoon show? Man. I thought those lousy MC Hammer cartoons from the '80s were bad. Nope. This has it beat. With animation that's x number of frames every so often, a voice cast of a couple, and character images that prove that no one who's ever been associated with a Pratchett book has any real idea what the characters are supposed to look like (with the possible exception of the author himself, but I don't want to make that bet), it proves that TV sucks.

Next on the list? The Mote in God's Eye by Niven & Pournelle. Now, while I've heard so many bad things about these guys (did they sleep with fandom's collective mother, or something?), I can't say I had too many complaints with the book. I mean, sure, the main characters did seem pretty stupid; their first contact with the alien race read like a Keystone Anthropologists movie or The Three Stooges make First Contact. "Whoop, whoop, whoop, we have no idea what we're doing".

The aliens, a zany crew of castes and sub-species with three arms in the lot of them (but they've still got lefties, so they're not THAT advanced), are thankfully well enough advanced that they learn languages almost instantaneously. The finale & Great Conundrum of the book is interesting, if kind of annoying, when you consider it could probably be solved by a very simple solution (two words: Tic Tacs).

I guess not all game fiction sucks. The Doom Brigade, for example, is not only a Game Fiction novel, but it's set in Krynn, where the original GF novels (the interminable Dragonlance trilogies) came from (and don't expect me to include those lame Gord novels. Ick). Written by Margaret Weis and Don Perrin, it's the story of two groups of characters seeking treasure.

Now, while that may seem to be pretty much the standard formula for an RPG novel, it's different. For example, one of them is a group of Draconian engineers. Now, I know what most of you are going to say: "Moe, how can then expect us to feel sympathy for them? They're the most evil group in the universe! I mean, really? Engineers as heroes? No way!" Well, I agree, it's hard to sympathize with them, especially since they're so similar to many of the human engineers I'm related to. I mean, know. They drink a lot and act fairly obnoxious, then complain that there aren't any women around. The actual story isn't too badly done, and they manage to generate a bit of pathos for the previous books disposable adversaries (with exploding bones!).

Blood Debt is the last (or so she SAYS) Vicki Nelson vampire novel from Tanya Huff. Now, I must admit, I liked it a lot more than my local demi-ghod weasel-boy did, but that's just because everything he does is so, well, wrong that I can't help but be directly opposed to him. It's a karmic thingy. Anyway, I liked the story, ghosts coming back from the dead to demand vengeance. One aspect ('am I a supernatural beast of vengeance or an ex-cop') was interestingly handled with, but since we won't see any repercussions from it anytime (due to its place in the book), felt kind of empty.

The use of hijacked kidneys as a plot device initially made me throw my hands up in the air (and shake 'em like I just didn't care). However, once I'd read the story and found it wasn't being used in the standard urban legend ( i.e. 'mickey them in the bar so they wake up in a tub full o' ice') I calmed down a bit. All in all, Blood Debt is an enjoyable book. The Celluci character gets more than his share of abuse, which is what happens when you're the only human protagonist left in a horror novel. And, of course, it's a Tanya Huff novel, so it rocks.

Now, the Bitter Guy must go. Next month, there will be more books, and more bitterness. Farewell, and pull your pants up, you're scaring the children.

Justin Mohareb, c/o bitter@rpg.net

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