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The Life Eaters
David Brin
Wildstorm/DC, 144 pages


Scott Hampton
The Life Eaters
David Brin
David Brin is a scientist and SF author who has won three Hugo Awards, two for Best Novel. His 1989 thriller Earth foresaw both global warming and the World Wide Web. A movie with Kevin Costner was loosely based on The Postman and Startide Rising is in pre-production. Brin's non-fiction book -- The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Freedom and Privacy? -- deals with threats to openness and liberty in the new wired-age. His latest novel, Foundation's Triumph, brings to a grand finale Isaac Asimov's famed Foundation Universe. David is heavily involved in efforts to help use SF to benefit younger readers -- Webs of Wonder.

David Brin Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Heaven's Reach
SF Site Review: Foundation's Triumph
SF Site Review: Heaven's Reach
SF Site Review: Infinity's Shore
SF Site Review: The Postman
The Good and the Bad: Outlines of Tomorrow (Essay)
Brin Bibliography
The New Meme (Essay)
David Brin Tribute Page
David Brin Tribute Page

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

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In the 40s, Hitler, desperate and knowing that he was losing, uses necromancy to create an unholy alliance with the gods of the Norse Pantheon. Odin and Thor lead them through several victories, and all seems lost for the allies until Loki steps in. Siding with the Allied forces, he comes up with a plan that may win them the war. But when it fails, is it the fault of the one known as the trickster god? Can he be trusted is he comes to light again? And who will take up the cause, what hero will step forth to fight this impossible enemy, as years roll by and creatures of impossible myth step forward once more?

Fans of David Brin might find The Life Eaters strikes a familiar cord. This book was inspired by his Hugo-nominated 1986 novella, "Thor Meets Captain America."

This cleverly written what-if story explores so many things. First, we've all heard of how the Nazis seemed really obsessed in the occult. I was particularly interested, for example, in Hitler's search for the Holy Grail. Exploring this interest is not new. Steven Spielberg used it in Raiders of the Lost Ark, for one, but it is an idea (an ironic idea, considering the other things the Nazi party was against) that shows how complex the madness was. For this book, it gives a horrifying purpose to the mass murders of so many people. For their deaths gave Hitler power to call these Aesirs, and later others, into being. Whether they are real, aliens, or constructions of this terrible magic, no one knows. I particularly enjoyed the fusion of myth and war, especially when Brin shows us what happens when other pantheons come to life.

It is also a story about heroes. The first one we meet is a man who, along with some soldiers, are part of Loki's plan to blow up Aesir. Chris is a good man, and his actions will inspire a future hero. This future hero will don super-armor that gives him powers, but it is the person inside that triumphs. In these two Brin gives us people who, despite the horrible straits they find themselves in, are determined to overcome, not just for themselves, but for the world. They are admirable, they make us feel optimistic about the future of human kind.

Scott Hampton's art is a good match for Brin's prose. I confess, I am far more used to the Sandman versions of Loki and Odin, and of the Marvel version of Thor, so seeing how he chose to portray these Aesirs was really interesting. They look far more like Ancient Norman carvings. His ink and paint panels are well done, expressive and realistic. Part of this realism comes from a rather subdued palette of colors, a strong choice that adds to the atmosphere of the book perfectly. There are some scenes of desolation that I found particularly striking, and the cover, too, while not an actual scene from the book, is a good example of what you can expect inside.

Often times as optimistic as it is heartbreaking, this tale creates a past I'm truly glad never happened but found it fascinating to walk through.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


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