Short Book Reviews: Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s The World Menders (1971), Pamela Sargent’s The Sudden Star (variant title: The White Death) (1979), Josef Nesvadba’s In the Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman (variant title: The Lost Face)(1964, trans. 1970)

Note: My “to review” pile is growing. Short reviews are a way to get through the stack. Stay tuned for more detailed and analytical reviews.

But first…. three completely different volumes.

1.  The  World  Menders, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1971)

(David Bergen’s cover for the 1975 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

Despite the idiotic moments in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), as a kid I adored the first sequence–the undercover team observing the Ba’Ku community from a hidden observation station (before Data’s malfunction). Of course, Star Fleet assumed the Ba’Ku were pre-warp drive (and thus first contact shouldn’t be initiated). The mechanics of going undercover to initiate or prepare a society for contact is a fascinating and endlessly replayable SF premise. Continue reading

Book Review: The Metallic Muse, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1972)


(Ed Nuckolls’ cover for the 1972 edition)

3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)

Over the years I’ve collected quite a few of Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s SF novels and collections but have not read any of his work since late 2011 when I reviewed The Light That Never Was (1972). Mike’s mostly positive review of his short stories in The Metallic Muse (1972) reminded me of my lack of knowledge of Biggle, Jr.’s strange brand of relatively breezy but earnest SF.  And due to an unnatural aggregation of cosmic particles, our ratings align with unnerving precision.

Many of the stories in The Metallic Muse center around the transformative power of music and art: for example, a song calls space orphans back home in “Orphan of the Void”; an artist dares to create non-commercial music in “The Tunesmith”; TV keeps the masses in line in “Well of the Deep Wish”; and a robotic violin teacher deprives a professor of his students in “Spare the Rod.”  Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s ebullient style of telling sometimes trivializes and simplifies the heady themes, but his inventiveness Continue reading