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Xenopath
Eric Brown
Solaris, 415 pages

Eric Brown
Eric Brown was born in 1960 and grew up in Australia. He now lives in Haworth, England. His novels include The Virex Trilogy (Penumbra, Meridian Days, Engineman, Untouchable and Walkabout -- the latter two for young adults), and the collections The Time-Lapsed Man and Blue Shifting. He is a regular and popular contributor to Interzone magazine.

Eric Brown's Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Necropath
SF Site Review: Threshold Shift
SF Site Review: Approaching Omega
SF Site Review: New York Dreams
SF Site Review: Bengal Station
SF Site Review: New York Nights
SF Site Review: New York Blues
SF Site Review: Parellax View
SF Site Review: Bengal Station

Past Feature Reviews
A review by John Enzinas

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Xenopath Xenopath is the second Bengal Station novel by Eric Brown. Where the first book took a little while to find it's groove, the second slots in right away and starts moving.

The story takes place one year after Necropath. Vaughan and his wife are happily married and expecting their first child. He is enjoying a life free of telepathy, even if it is also free of the surplus cash he used to earn. An old acquaintance contacts him with a proposal to join a telepathic detective agency. There is a bit of angst but, in the end, Vaughan does it for the future of his family.

From there, the story follows a similar path to the detective/police thriller. The main characters discover too much information about someone important that has the possibility of taking away some one's power and control. That someone tries to hush them up, but they can't let the crime go unsolved and unpunished.

For the most part, it is fairly straightforward, but there are some clever twists. I was especially delighted with the subversion of the Fridge trope. It is very well executed and I had no motivation problems ripping through it, unlike some other books I'm trying to finish for the review.

If I was to voice one complaint about this it would be it is just a little bit too happy. The genre that Brown is trying for seems to be the Film Noir with one good (but flawed) man standing up against evil. The books I would use for comparison would be the Budayeen books by the late George Alec Effinger. The books have a similar feel with the white detective stranger hiding from his past in an exotic setting. In Effinger's books, there is the sense that the protagonist is fooling himself and most of the times he has a chance for true happiness it is lost. Necropath used a similar theme where the peace that Vaughan found at the end came from the loss of what kept him apart from other men after losing the one person who saw the good man he was.

In Xenopath, there was not that sense of happiness won with personal tragedy that made first book so good despite it's slow start. It's not that the end was happy, but rather that it all seemed so neatly wrapped up. Given what I've seen of Brown's writing, I suspect that this is just a setup for the twist of the third act but I can't help but wish there had been a bit of a hint of darkness to come.

Copyright © 2009 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.


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