Here is high fidelity fiction at Philip José Farmer's story-telling best. It's a vibrant, distractingly different tale of three centuries into the future. And as you read you'll have a vague, uneasy feeling that it's all taking place somewhere in the unexplored parts of the universe, even today.
"Enslaved by a triangular powered despotism—one lone man sets his sights to the Six Bright Stars and eventual freedom of his world." (Unauthorized rewrite, "ruined" according to Farmer.)
ugh the grille, could see her shadowy shape in the inner cell inside the wall. She rose langorously and stepped into the circle of dim orange light cast by the insects.
"B'zhu, m'fweh," she greeted him.
It annoyed him that she called him her brother, and it annoyed him even more to know that she knew it. It was true that she had some excuse for thus addressing him. She did resemble him. Like him, she had straight glossy blue-black hair, thick bracket-shaped eyebrows, brown eyes, a straight nose and a prominent chin. And where his build was superbly masculine, hers was magnificently feminine.
Nevertheless, this was not her reason for so speaking to him. She knew the disgust the Land-walker had for the Amphib-changeling, and she took a perverted delight in baiting him.
He was proud that he seldom allowed her to see that she annoyed him. "B'zhu, fam tey zafeep," he said. "Good evening, woman of the Amphibians."
Mockingly she said, "Have you been watching the S
A longish short story, it sort of reminded me of The Three Musketeers; it certainly seemed set in that time. On a human colony around another star, there are two other sentient hominids: reptiles, and amphibians. All three species wear living cloaks, called skins, which allow them telepathy and empathy with every other skin-wearer, and which provides a conscience, complete with electric shocks for bad behavior. Rastignac wants to overthrow the skins.
It takes the whole story to make sense of the society these people live in, but the story is an interesting puzzle. It's a pulp story, but better than average.
Not bad for Farmer. I seem to recall his stories were not to my taste, but this one was entertaining.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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