Friday, January 28, 2011

Xenopath


Xenopath by Eric Brown is the second book in his Bengal Station Trilogy. The other two books are Necropath and CosmopathI haven read any other books by Mr. Brown but he's gotten some really great reviews.

I picked up this book because of the "blurb" on the back. That blurb had very little to do with what was in the book. It mentions "alien corpses" when there are none. Actually, that's the main point of the book. I'm not going to spoil it.

I think that each book in a series should stand alone. I want to be able to pick up any book from any point in the series and get up to speed in a few paragraphs. Not pages. Paragraphs. I also want the story to be self contained. To begin and end with each book. Of course, the "world" created for the series is the same in each book. At least it should be. I hate authors who add stuff halfway through the series. Imagine being three books into a series and you suddenly find out magic works. Sigh.

Characters of a series should carry over with just enough information so that the reader knows who they are and what their relationship is to each other. Past events can be referred to IF it moves the story or explains something that cannot be communicated in any other way. Touch on it and then get on with the new story. I do not want to read pages of explanation of what has gone on before.

Is this too much to ask? I think not. Xenopath does it very well.

I understood the world the book takes place on without a lot of explanation. It's the future. There's a gigantic spaceport on Earth. The main character, Vaughan. was a telepath. He's married to a woman he met in the first book. She's pregnant. Easy peasy. That tells you why, when he's offered a chance to be telepathic again without previous drawbacks, he takes the job.

After that Xenopath is your basic noir mystery with sci-fi flash. People are being lasered. All the victims are connected to a distant planet called Mallory. Vaughan looks for a possible witness to one of the crimes but he knows he'll have to go to Mallory to get any real answers.

If you've been reading a while you know I likes me some noir. Endings aren't always happy but I can accept that if it fits the tone of the rest of the story. The only quibble I have with Xenopath is a deus ex machina in the form of an alien who has been hiding in a little girl's head. It was a bridge too far for me to cross. I couldn't stop myself from yelling, "Foul!"

Even with the alien intervention, I enjoyed this book. I'm looking forward to reading the other two books in the series. If you've read the books don't spoil it for me but I'd like to hear your thoughts on Xenopath.