The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Sequels And Weirdness

Posted on | November 21, 2014 | 6 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

This week has been all about sequels, which in this particular instance is a Good Thing, because all of these sequels are pretty good stuff. We’ll start with Larry Correia’s Spellbound, the bridge novel between Hard Magic and Warbound, and as such it explains a lot of what’s going on in the early stages of the latter. It has an odd feel to it, with a healthy helping of X Files-like government conspiracy action added to the usual problems with the Imperium, and a not terribly positive view of FDR, which may be an additional point in its favor for some folks. Recommended, just like the rest of the Grimnoir trilogy.

Oddly similar to the Grimnoir trilogy are the sequels to James Schmitz’ classic young adult SF novel, The Witches of Karres. For those of you who missed this one, it’s a madcap adventure involving hapless spaceship captain Pausert from the dull, boring world of Nikkeldepain, who finds himself saddled with three sisters in a foreign port – and worse yet, they’re all from the mysterious (and proscribed!) world of Karres, notorious home of witches who can manipulate klatha powers in various magical ways. Before he can say “Sheewash what?” he finds himself with a shipload of questionable passengers, a cargohold full of useless junk, and a course into the extremely dangerous Chaladoor. Wild adventure and a fair amount of comedy ensues. Well, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer took a swing at writing a sequel, The Wizard of Karres, in which Captain Pausert and his two remaining charges, Goth and the Leewit, wind up running off to join the circus while scraping up funds to fix their damaged ship. Moon, Flint and Freer do a good job imitating Schmitz’s style, and The Warlock of Karres winds up being that rare beast, a decent sequel. The same is true for the second sequel, The Sorceress of Karres, in which a girl and some events from Pausert’s childhood return to haunt his present. Will his growing klatha abilities, added to those of Goth and the Leewit get him out of trouble this time?

The reason I maintain that the Karres novels are similar to the Grimnoir trilogy is that they share a similar plot: small band of super-powered heroes goes up against mysterious and powerful enemies in a battle to save humanity. The stages are different, the characters are different, but I think if you like Schmitz’s novel you’re probably going to like Correia’s, and vice versa – though given the unsparing description of violence in the Grimnoir trilogy, you might want to give a likely young person a copy of The Witches of Karres instead.

Last on the reading list this week: Philip K. Dick’s Clans of the Alphane Moon, which involves an Earth colony populated by escapees from a mental hospital. The colonists have sorted themselves out into clans based on their particular psychiatric problems, and regard the advent of Earth’s psychiatrists as an invasion to be resisted. Meanwhile, CIA agent Chuck Rittersdorf is being divorced by his wife Mary, a crack marriage counselor who is shipping out to the Alphane colony – but not before strong-arming Chuck into a writing job for TV comedian Bunny Hentman. Also involved in this mess is Chuck’s neighbor, telepathic Ganymedan slime mold Lord Running Clam, and of course Chuck’s fellow agents at the CIA. Chuck seizes on the chance to pilot a simulacrum to Alphane and thus revenge himself on Mary (who has taken him to the cleaners in the divorce) by killing her and making it look like a sim malfunction. Like so many of Dick’s work, this is weirdness on stilts, with outrageous coincidences, stupid assumptions by the characters, and hidden motivations all combining to send the characters caroming off each other until they finally reach a bizarre, yet logical conclusion. If this is the sort of SF you enjoy, then this will probably be a good book for you.


6 Responses to “Sequels And Weirdness”

  1. Fail Burton
    November 22nd, 2014 @ 12:15 pm

    The version of the Witches of Karres I first read is the novelette from 1949. That’s the version in the SF Hall of Fame anthology and from where the story gets its reputation and it’s one of our great works of SF.

    The 1966 novel doesn’t really work but it’s still fun to read to see what happens to these characters. Still, it was considered good enough to be nominated for a Hugo when the novel finally came out.

  2. Wombat_socho
    November 22nd, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

    I’ve read both, and I think the novel is an okay extension of the novelette. As are the sequels, though I’m not impressed with the covers.

  3. Fail Burton
    November 22nd, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

    Have you ever visited this site called Coolvibe? It’s all ( mostly digital) SFF art and it’s just fantastic. Why aren’t those folks doing covers?

  4. Wombat_socho
    November 22nd, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

    Good question!

  5. Christopher_Chittleborough
    November 23rd, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

    Er, the first-named author on Baen’s Karres sequels is Mercedes Lackey, not Elizabeth Moon.

    I liked both sequels. In the first (Warlock), the authors wrote an entertaining book while trying (fairly successfully, IMO) to match Schmitz’s style; in the last sequel (Sorceress) they seem to just go for entertainment value.

  6. Wombat_socho
    November 23rd, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

    WTF was I thinking? Fixed. Thanks!