I am totally thrown of balance to discover that the third
book in the trilogy is missing. We took all the books off one of the floor to
ceiling stacks a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t the person who replaced them. I
know the book is here, in the house, I just don’t know where. I have hunted,
but not as thoroughly as necessary. It will turn up.
Doubly thrown off balance. Just went to look at Varley’s website
to calm myself down – found his list of read books. It almost exactly mirrors a large part
of my own bookshelf. Okay, he’s short on 19th
Russian and French short stories in translation and garden books but … well, let’s
take a look.
John Varley read:
HEMINGWAY'S CHAIR by Michael Palin – nope
GLITZ by Elmore Leonard – nope, but I read a lot of Leonard
THE BOYFRIEND by Thomas Perry (not yet, but I am possibly
the biggest Perry fan in the UK,
it’s on my wishlist when I get some cash)
A CASE OF NEED by Michael Crichton – nope – but I have a lot
of Crichton on my shelves
AH, TREACHERY! by Ross Thomas - nope
HARK! by Ed McBain - yup
WODEHOUSE ON CRIME by D.R. Bensen – not this edition but
there ain’t not nothin’ Wodehouse I ain’t read!
GUILT by Jonathan Kellerman - yup
SUSPECT by Robert Crais - yup
THE BURGLAR WHO THOUGHT HE WAS BOGART by Lawrence Block -
THE RIPTIDE ULTRA-GLIDE by Tim Dorsey - nope
THE BIG BAMBOO by Tim Dorsey - nope
BOWL OF HEAVEN by Greg Benford and Larry Niven – yup
OF GOLD by William
Goldman - yup
THE BIG PICTURE by William Goldman - yup
TELEGRAPH AVENUE by Michael Chabon – nope, but it’s only my
NOCTURNE by Ed McBain - yup
THE FOURTH DURANGO by Ross Thomas - nope
FATHER'S DAY by William Goldman - nope
SLEIGHT OF HAND by Kate Wilhelm - nope
A WRONGFUL DEATH by Kate Wilhelm - nope
THE TORTILLA CURTAIN by T.C. Boyle - yup
TALK TALK by T.C. Boyle – yup, and it’s a big fat keeper to
come on this blog
SUNSTROKE by Jesse Kellerman – nope but I read Jonathan and Faye
Kellerman until I was cured of my Kellerman Jones about three years ago.
I find that spooky – in a good way.
So, Demon, Wizard and Titan – the Gaea Trilogy. There’s world-building
and world-building. Is Varley the Best Writer in America as Tom Clancy says? I don’t
know. Is the best world-building writer ever? In my view he’s up there with Ray
Bradbury, Ursula K le Guin, Brian Aldiss and Frank Herbert – and that’s
prestigious company to keep.
I was stunned by the complexity of Varley’s female
characters at a time when little sf or even sff had women in it, even one
dimensional women. There was Le Guin, of course, and Octavia Butler and Anne
McCaffrey but they were lone voices, each clear and true but each singing a
solo part in a different hemisphere of the science fiction/fantasy universe.
Against them was ranged a mass choir of bloke fiction. And then there was
Varley. Gods bless him.
Rocky (Cirocco) Jones is a real heroine, bloody, flawed and
believable. The world in which she finds herself (a hollow torus habitat
created by a world-building creature: Gaea) is unbelievable, but at each
incredible turn, Varley pulls the skew-whiff sense of surrealism back to a
bedrock starting point. It’s very simple; Gaea adapted her world to what she
learned of ours. However nasty the surprises, Rocky and her companions have
humanity to thank for them.
It’s dazzling, it’s funny, it’s thought-provoking, it has a
sixty foot tall Marilyn Monroe … it’s clearly a keeper!
Labels: anne mccaffrey, Gaea Trilogy, John Varley, octavia butler, science fiction, ursula k le guin