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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Monday, December 15, 2003

The White Bull by Fred Saberhagen. New York: Baen Books, 1988. ISBN: 0-671-69794-3

The prolific Fred Saberhagen writes consistently entertaining science fiction and fantasy. Recently he has written 5 novels exploring the ancient gods (Greek, Norse, etc.) with an interesting technological twist: each god’s attributes are contained within a “face,” a technological construct which can be worn by any person who finds or appropriates it. (See http://www.berserker.com/fredsgods.htm for a list of titles and descriptions.) The White Bull is a similar kind of story, but was written some years earlier, and explores the notion that the famous Minotaur of Crete was a representative of an alien expedition to earth. The famous artisan, Daedelus, is the main character, and the book follows his exploits and interaction with the alien “White Bull” whose poorly realized goal is to educate humankind.

Having read The White Bull only recently, after reading the “gods” series, the first of which is copyright in 1998, a full 10 years after The White Bull, it is interesting to see Saberhagen playing around with some of the themes that he will develop more completely and in a more consistent manner later. One could almost imagine that the source of the face artifacts was the visit by aliens described in The White Bull, although no explanation of the source for the faces is given in the later series, so far as I can recall.

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