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The Wild Boy
Warren Rochelle
Golden Gryphon, 260 pages

Warren Rochelle
Warren Gary Rochelle, Assistant Professor of English, Mary Washington College, Fredricksburg, VA, earned his Ph.D. in English and his MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, after receiving his M.S. (1978) in library service from Columbia University and his B.A (1977) in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Rochelle has had his scholarly work published in several journals including Foundation and Extrapolation. His critical work, Communities of the Heart: The Rhetoric of Myth in the Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin, was published by Liverpool University Press in 2001. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in various journals such as Beyond the Third Planet, Forbidden Lines, Coraddi, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Colonnades, and Graffiti, as well as the Asheville Poetry Review, GW Magazine, Crucible, The Charlotte Poetry Review, and Romance and Beyond. Dr. Rochelle also is the author of The Wild Boy published by Golden Gryphon Press. Among his awards is the Fullerton Merit Award for Teaching (1999-2000) from Limestone College, Gaffney, S.C. In addition, he has received awards in various contests including a third prize in the Briada Press Short Story Contest (1999) and a second prize in the Coraddi fiction contest (1997). Dr. Rochelle is involved in the National Council of the Teachers of English, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the Science Fiction Research Association and the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. His "A Directory of North Carolina Science Fiction and fantasy Writers" and his story "Interviews in Cold Springs, North Carolina" appear in the latest (2001) North Carolina Literary Review.

BOOK REVIEW: The Wild Boy 1, 2, 3
Warren G. Rochelle, Assistant Professor of English, Mary Washington College, Fredricksburg, VA
Academic publications: 1
Publisher's pages for:
The Wild Boy
Communities of the Heart The Rhetoric of Myth in the Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin
North Carolina Literary Review

A review by Georges T. Dodds

The Wild Boy In some ways, The Wild Boy, Warren Rochelle's first novel, is a throwback to such mid-20th century alien invasion novels as George O. Smith's Pattern for Conquest and Eric Frank Russell's Sinister Barrier, except, that in this case the humans don't save themselves in extremis, they become pets. The Lindauzi, a race of long-lived, highly advanced genetically-enhanced ursine-like aliens require a primate species as emotional symbionts, lest they revert to their former savage state. However, their former emotional symbionts have perished in a great plague -- and humans are the closest viable substitute. After cold-bloodedly wiping out humanity, its technology and society, they begin breeding remaining humans for their empathic abilities, to use as their pets. The Lindauzi seem to have it made with Ilox, a man who can strongly bond with one of them. However, things begin to sour when Ilox discovers that the Lindauzi are at the origin of the virus which wiped out much of humanity. He is expelled and retreats to a rogue human village on the planet surface, where he bonds instead with a human woman, fathers a child, Caleb, then disappears. When he is 11, Caleb, capable of sensing the Lindauzi telepathically, decides to seek out his father, when he alone escapes a Lindauzi raid on his village -- but by then Lindauzi society is crumbling.

While the multiple viewpoints of the humans Ilox and Caleb, and of the Lindauzis, Phlarx and Corviax make for an interesting study of the pet-master relationship from various viewpoints, The Wild Boy lacks the action and paranoia that drove much of the earlier works in this genre. On the plus side, it doesn't offer the typical heroic human who singlehandedly defeats the aliens. In some ways, the more reflective The Wild Boy can be read as a cautionary tale about placing all one's marbles in genetic engineering of one's or another's species. In this sense it has certain similarities to Kirstin Bakis' Lives of the Monster Dogs, where dogs surgically and genetically enhanced to human-like intelligence by a mad scientist, begin to revert to form.

The Wild Boy, while it reverses the human-pet relationship, thankfully doesn't descend into a diatribe about animal rights. Where it is perhaps a bit weak is that the Lindauzi, while clearly not physically human, have largely human-like motivations and emotional baggage. However, it does bring new life to an old genre in a fairly original manner, with a multiple viewpoint structure that allows a peek not only into the motivations of the humans, but also of their alien counterparts.

Copyright © 2002 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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