________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 13. . . .November 26, 2010


Pock’s World.

Dave Duncan.
Calgary AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2010.
250 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-47-0.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

***½ /4



“The state of their souls just became extremely urgent,”

the pope said harshly. “Yesterday STARS Inc. quarantined Pock’s World.”

Ah! Suddenly everything made sense. If a pandemic was raging on Pock’s and the Holy Father wished to organize a relief fund or a medical mission, then the newly famous Brother Andre would be the logical person to put in charge. It would be both a staggering responsibility and a cause. “I suppose that should not surprise us, Holy Father. The environment there is loaded with free radicals and other carcinogens that act as mutagens on unicellular life. Or is it a virus? What sort of mortality rate?”

Cyril Pius raised a thin-veined hand. “I am not talking of a disease. I am talking about a Diallion abomination.”

Humanity has expanded to the stars, colonizing all inhabitable planets that it discovers. When necessary, science has modified humans to suit their new environments, this being easier and faster than terra forming the planets. Stellar Transport and Research Section, a.k.a. STARS Inc., has just declared that an obscure human-settled planet, Pock’s World, has been infected by “Cuckoos,” otherwise known as synthetic hominins, or even, humanoid aliens. STARS solution in such cases is sterilization; the total destruction of all life on the infected planet. STARS has agreed to an independent fact-finding mission to examine the evidence. Five individuals from the planet Ayne are chosen to pass judgement on Pock’s World.

     The Catholic Church chooses Father Andre, a recent runner-up to the office of pope, best described as saintly, but ruthless. Ratty Turnsole is a randy muckraking reporter with head implants that allow him to keep up, and perhaps manufacture, the news. His broadcasts reach several worlds. Athena Fimble is an important politician and Senator. She has just reached the decision to have a child with her younger lover rather than attempt a run for president of Ayne, Doctor Millie Backet, Director of Health and Population Studies for the Sector Council, appears to be a typical bureaucrat, whose main ambition seems to be to act as chair for the fact-finding mission, thus getting her name on the tile of their report. The final member of the committee is Linn Lazuline, a billionaire and probably their world’s richest person, who offers to sponsor Athena’s run for the presidency, in exchange for two nights in her bed, plus reasonable co-operation.

      Of course, there is some doubt that things are really what they seem when the committee finally reaches Pock’s World and begins the investigation. Very well-written plot and characters, the tale is a page-turner, as the potential for the death of an entire planet and its inhabitants looms large. The story should appeal to a wide range of readers, not just fans of science fiction.

      Pock’s World opens with a page of comments about the author’s writing and a second page listing his many novels. This story is told over 250 pages, plus a star chart. There are five pages at the end of the book listing other volumes by the same publisher, followed by the first seven pages of Cinco de Mayo, another recent book by this publisher, and an advertisement for a limited edition of Evolve, their vampire collection.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald Hore, involved with writer’s groups for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.