wear­ing out a cap­ti­vated au­di­ence

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

Fiction in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury

( Wes­leyan Univer­sity Press, 398pp, $ 46.95), ed­i­tor Jus­tine Lar­balestier presents 11 sem­i­nal science fiction sto­ries by key women writ­ers in the field, among them Kate Wil­helm, James Tip­tree Jr and Oc­tavia But­ler, with ac­com­pa­ny­ing com­men­taries by the likes of Brian At­te­bery, Cathy Hawkins and Wendy Pear­son.

The pre­vail­ing tone is mod­er­ate, earnest and fair, and the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect is to re­store pro­por­tion rather than push an agenda.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, some com­men­ta­tors be­come too stri­dent for the read­er­ship they need to per­suade but, given trends in the treat­ment of women glob­ally, it’s ex­cus­able.

Daugh­ters of Earth is in­sight­ful and im­por­tant, re­mind­ing us what good science fiction by women can achieve when fo­cused where needed and fairly ac­knowl­edged for all that it has brought to the lit­er­ary ta­ble.

In ( HarperCollins, 370pp, $ 33), Dean Koontz presents an­other en­gag­ing ad­ven­ture in the life of one of his most in­ter­est­ing and en­dear­ing char­ac­ters.

Odd Thomas not only sees ghosts but also bo­dachs, those shad­owy har­bin­gers of doom that her­ald mis­for­tune on a grand scale and have been part of so much of his per­sonal suf­fer­ing. Fol­low­ing the grim events in Odd Thomas and For­ever Odd, our gifted 21- year- old is hid­ing out

Brother Odd in the High Sier­ras at a monastery school for dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren, a pre­cious time of calm that ends when Odd sees bo­dachs prowl­ing the premises in in­creas­ing num­bers.

Be­liev­ing that mis­for­tune can’t be far be­hind, he be­gins a fran­tic search to learn what is go­ing on, a search made ter­ri­fy­ing by hor­rific deaths among the brothers and by the strange bone- like crea­tures that seek to harm peo­ple, and one child in par­tic­u­lar.

Al­though lack­ing the scale and im­pact of its pre­de­ces­sors, Brother Odd is a free­stand­ing, en­ter­tain­ing third in­stal­ment in a se­ries whose ul­ti­mate themes are en­dur­ing ones: duty of care and the im­por­tance of per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

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