Bookshelf (Starburst Reviews) Bookshelf compiled by Anthony Brown
• part of Starburst's monthly Reviews section
Selected from Starburst #279

Selected this month: the Farscape novel
Ship of Ghosts

and Laurell K Hamilton's A Kiss of Shadows

Ratings given are now
out of five

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Ship of Ghosts (Farscape)
by David Bischoff • Published by Boxtree
257pp, paperback • Reviewed by Anthony Brown

Farscape: Ship of Ghosts by David Bischoff

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' The characters themselves suffer from placing this book so early in the show’s run'

Once upon a time, there was an innovative Science Fiction series which turned the genre upside down and reinvigorated it. Its creator promised that the tie-in books would do the same, but with a few exceptions they proved to be the usual homogenized pap, written by authors who’d been churning out tie-in books for years. Eventually, after a few years and a change of publishers things improved and the books became worthy of the original series, but by then Babylon 5 had reached its end and the interest simply wasn’t there.

To judge by Ship of Ghosts, Farscape looks set to follow the same sad course. Set early in the first season, Ship of Ghosts feels as if it was written then as well. David Bischoff spends a lot of time introducing the regular characters through dream sequences and recollections, and explaining who they are in the sort of broadbrush terms necessary when readers can’t be expected to know how Crichton ended up on the other side of the galaxy.

On top of this, the characters themselves suffer from placing this book so early in the show’s run. They’re portrayed in a way which is faithful to the series’ original ideas and those less-than-scintillating early episodes, but since then the writers and actors have run with these characters and given them extra life. Compared with what’s we’ve grown used to on air, presenting D’Argo as nothing more than a noisy warrior and Crais as a moustache-twirling psychopath (who commits atrocities that are more Scorpius’ style) is simply dull.

Unfortunately, that sums up the entire book. There’s none of Farscape’s Starburst Rating: 1/5inventive energy, and the plot is a standard issue tale of energy creatures who can bring memories to life: more reminiscent of the original Star Trek. The entire book belongs to a past age – one where any extra fix of a favourite show would do.

A Kiss of Shadows
by Laurell K Hamilton • Published by Bantam 521pp, paperback • Reviewed by Barbara Davies

A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K Hamilton - order it from Amazon.co.uk

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'...a PI tale (which) rapidly swerves into the realm of the fantastic'

Laurell K Hamilton doesn’t just cross genre boundaries in A Kiss of Shadows, she smashes through them with great gusto. Fantasy, Detective Fiction, and Horror are here given an erotic spin – so if you don’t like explicit sex, be warned.

In Hamilton’s America, Human and Fey have co-existed peacefully since President Jefferson made an agreement with the sidhe. Merry Gentry, Los Angeles private eye and incognito faerie princess, has two preoccupations – solving supernatural crimes and hiding from her fearsome aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness. Unlike her kin, Merry is mortal. When a case she is working on blows Merry’s cover, she assumes her aunt is behind the subsequent magical attempts on her life. But things have changed, and the Queen wants her to come home.

It is a very different Merry who returns to the Court of Faerie, however, because intense fear and great sex have triggered the power she inherited from her father. Even so, it’s debatable whether the new, improved Merry can survive the machinations of her quirky aunt and jealous cousin. And will she ever be able to decide which of her handsome sidhe bodyguards to bed?

A Kiss of Shadows starts out as a PI tale but rapidly swerves into the realm of the fantastic. Unfortunately, Hamilton’s constant descriptions of clothing (including underwear) and the predictable effect of the beautiful Merry on the libido of every male within a three-mile radius get a bit wearing. Sex is fundamental to the plot, since Merry is descended from fertility gods, but less interacting between her and her hunky bodyguards would have speeded things along a bit.

Starburst Rating: 3/5That aside though, A Kiss of Shadows is an enjoyable read. Hamilton’s deft tale telling and unabashed enthusiasm carry the reader with her, and her gruesome imagination adds a welcome shiver to the elements of romance.

Reviews © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction