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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Viewpoints Critical by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. New York: Tor, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-7653-1857-2

Here’s another short story collection by an established author much more known for his novels. In fact, as the author tells us in his brief introduction, “this collection has been a long time in coming,” since “the first story in this volume was published more than thirty years ago.” In other words, it’s taken him a long time to come up with enough short stories to fill up a publishable collection.

Modesitt is a prolific writer of science fiction and fantasy, but one I have hardly gotten around to reading. I started reading The Spellsong Cycle years ago, and enjoyed the first two volumes very much, but somehow never got around to reading the rest. I don’t know if they had yet to be written and published at the time, or if I just somehow never got around to finding and reading them. Then I reread the first volume recently (link), but my library has no copies of the second volume, so I guess I’ll have to break down and buy a copy. I need to reread it before I go on to the other three volumes.

These are all competently written, more or less entertaining stories. Which is to say that none of them were really that compelling. The best were actually the stories set in the author’s existing universes. “Black Ordermage,” for example, which is set in the Recluse universe, and explains how the character Cassius ended up there. Even though I’ve never read any of the Recluse novels (the more shame on me!), I very much enjoyed this story. Likewise “Sisters of Sarronnyn, Sisters of Westwind” which is another Recluse story.

“Beyond the Obvious Wind” was another story I liked, and it’s the story from which the entire Corean Chronicles originally sprang, even though it goes off in a different direction entirely, according to the author. I have to take his word for it, because, again, I’ve never read any of the novels in question. There are, to misquote that immortal old saw, just too many books, too little time.

So, Modesitt fans will definitely want to read this book, if only for those stories alone. Definitely recommended for his fans; others can take it or leave it, depending on the level of interest and the amount of time available.

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