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Asgard's Secret
Brian Stableford
Five Star, 280 pages

Asgard's Secret
Brian Stableford
Brian Stableford was born in 1948 at Shipley, Yorkshire. He graduated with a B.A. in Biology from the University of York, going on to do postgraduate research, first in Biology then in Sociology. In 1979 he received a D. Phil. Until 1998 he worked as a Lecturer in the Sociology Department of the University of Reading. Since then he has been a full-time writer and a part-time Lecturer at several universities.

Brian Stableford Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Year Zero
SF Site Review: Swan Songs
SF Site Review: The Fountains of Youth
SF Site Review: The Dictionary of Science Fiction Places
SF Site Review: Inherit the Earth

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Susan Dunman

Welcome to Asgard. No, not the fabled city of Norse mythology, but an equally amazing structure that seems to have been made by the gods themselves. In fact, no one can figure out exactly who made it, but Asgard is a planet-sized artifact that consists of innumerable concentric spheres, one inside the other. No one knows how many levels comprise the entire structure, but scientists, explorers, crooks, and grave robbers from all the nearby galaxies have made their home in Skychain City, the base of operations for the exploration of Asgard.

So far, explorations have only ventured four levels down into the unknown depths. Progress is slow due to Asgard's enormous size and the absence of any atmosphere, which means working in the cold darkness of space. In addition, entrances from one level to another are not marked, making the discovery of portals between levels as difficult as finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Although there are a variety of alien races working on the Asgard project, Mike Rousseau is one of the few humans there and he has become quite an expert after years of frantic searching for access to the lower levels of the mysterious habitat. Despite no one yet discovering any life forms, explorers regularly uncover alien technology and artifacts that they usually sell for cash to fund their next expedition.

Mike hopes there are ancient civilizations living in the lower, warmer levels and he feels he is the one who can locate the evasive entry ways. Unfortunately, Mike's luck has not held and he is in desperate need of a sponsor to make another trip down to the frigid, uninhabitable levels of Asgard in his quest for fame and fortune.

While trying to scrape up some money, he is unexpectedly contacted by the authorities, notifying him that a fellow Earthling named Myrlin is orbiting Asgard but cannot be given permission to land unless a citizen of Skychain City agrees to sponsor him. With no funds to support the stranger, Mike refuses, but suggests he contact Saul Lyndrach, a fellow explorer from Earth.

Curiosity getting the best of him, Mike decides to visit Saul and meet the new arrival. Within a matter of hours, what he finds is that both his friend and the giant-sized Myrlin are missing, that some unsavory Spirellan gangsters want to hire him for an expedition to the lower levels, and that a detachment of Earth Star Force troopers have arrived to eliminate the enemy android Myrlin.

This sets the stage for a series of madcap adventures that are described by Mike in an appealing deadpan style reminiscent of Sgt. Joe Friday on the old Dragnet TV series. Mike gives readers "just the facts" in a way that truly does give this book the feel of a detective novel. In addition to an entertaining array of aliens and archaeological explorations, there are a series of puzzling mysteries to be solved. It's the inclusion of these "mini-mysteries" that really sets this novel apart and draws the reader into the story.

Author Brian Stableford has come up with an intriguing setting, inviting readers to join in an examination of both the architectural wonder that is called Asgard and the various cultures of those attempting to explore it. The action is fast-paced and, as in any good series, many questions are left unanswered. It's easy to look forward to the next installment of Mike Rousseau's adventures on Asgard. If the first title is any indication, it's a sure thing they won't be boring.

Copyright © 2005 Susan Dunman

Susan became a librarian many light years ago and has been reviewing books ever since. Audiobooks and graphic novels have expanded her quest to find the best science fiction in Libraryland.

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