Short Book Reviews: John M. Ford’s The Princes of the Air (1982), Keith Roberts’ The Furies (1966), and John D. MacDonald’s Wine Of the Dreamers (1951)

Note: My read but “waiting to be reviewed pile” is growing. Short rumination/tangents are a way to get through the stack before my memory and will fades. My website partially serves as a record of what I have read and a memory apparatus for any larger project I might conduct in the future. I rather a short review than none at all! Stay tuned for more detailed and analytical reviews.

1. The Princes of the Air, John M. Ford (1982)

3.5/5 (Good)

John M. Ford (1957-2006) is one of those authors I’ve read a lot about but never sat down and read. As if often my strategy, I decided to explore around the edges a bit before reading his best-known novels Web of Angels (1980) and The Dragon Waiting (1983). I settled on his second novel The Princes of the Air (1982)….

The first layer of The Princes of the Air reads as a traditional space opera. Three young men from rough poverty-filled pasts–Orden Obeck, David Kondor/Koleman, and Theodor Thorn/Norne–aspire to serve the Queen of Humankind. On the dusty planet Riyah Zain, the three friends scam the unwary and while away their days in the Asterion Arcade playing military games in which they imagine how they will serve the queen—Obeck will be the Ambassador-Global, Kondor the Admiral of the Fleet, and Theodor Norn the best Pilot and writer of the book on piloting. Obeck, indentured to the state as he voluntarily went on the government dole, trains to be a diplomat. He brushes up against the classist views of the students, who look down on Obeck’s achievements as an indentured man. Soon his accomplishments mean that he, and his friends, can leave the planet. Eventually, they find themselves embroiled in the machinations of the state and the powers that bind everything together.

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Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXIII (Sheffield + Lessing + Callenbach + Ford)

1. Body modification + new definitions of humanity + a mystery! What is there not to like? I’ve not read any of Charles Sheffield’s SF. I look forward to exploring his oeuvre.

2. A proto-cyberpunk novel? I wonder if Ford’s novel, Web of Angels (1980), doesn’t receive the readership it should due to the lack of noir imagery and Asian culture that forms the “cyberpunk” archetype…. thoughts?

3. I need to complete Doris Lessing’s sequence! When I might get around to reading it is another matter…

4. I always see Ernest Callenbach’s environmental utopia novel on the shelves of my local Half Price Books. While wandering around Mexico City I saw this one for a few pesos… and grabbed it.

Note: I am currently in Mexico City, far away from my scanner, and will be for almost another week. In two instances I own different editions of the books than the cover might indicate. I have noted in the back cover blurb which I own.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?


1. Sight of Proteus, Charles Sheffield (1978) (MY REVIEW)

(Clyde Caldwell’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading