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Chris Roberson
Pyr, 400 pages

Chris Roberson
Chris Roberson's short fiction can be found in the anthologies Live Without a Net (Roc, 2003), The Many Faces of Van Helsing (Ace, 2004), Tales of the Shadowmen (Black Coat Press, 2005), and FutureShocks (Roc, 2006). His story "O One" won the 2003 Sidewise Award for Best Short-Form Alternate History and was nominated for the 2004 World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction. With director Robert Rodriguez, he is the co-author of the Shark Boy and Lava Girl Adventures (Troublemaker Publishing, May 2005). In 2003, he launched the independent press MonkeyBrain Books, an publishing house specializing in genre fiction and non-fiction genre studies. His first novel is Here, There & Everywhere. He and his family reside in Austin, Texas.

Chris Roberson Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Here, There and Everywhere
SF Site Review: Here, There and Everywhere

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

Paragaea This new novel is old again. That is, it's quite explicitly, indeed exuberantly, in the mold of planetary romances such as Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars books, Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon serials, and Leigh Brackett's work. And, as the author reminds us, the television series Land of the Lost. Chris Roberson also includes buried references to many other SF books, and he grounds his story in at least vaguely (if not very) plausible speculative science. The end result is quite a lot of fun.

The main character is Akilina Chirikov, called Leena, a Soviet cosmonaut who is supposed to become the second woman in space, after Valentina Tereshkova. But her Vostok capsule encounters an anomaly, and she finds herself in another dimension, on a very Earth-like world -- but quite different.

She is quickly captured by intelligent jaguar men, and as quickly rescued by another jaguar man and a human. Fortunately for her, the jaguar man, Balam, and the human, Hieronymus Bonaventure, having little else to do, agree to help her in her quest to find a way back to Earth. She feels she must fulfill her duty to the Soviet people by reporting on this new land.

The rest of the story is a fairly typical quest, taking Leena and her companions around the whole continent of this world called Paragaea. The world is inhabited by many varieties of "metamen": jaguar hybrids like Balam, seal men, crocodile men, etc., as well as humans native to Paragaea and others who came through gates such as Leena. For instance, Hieronymus was a 19th Century British sailor. In rather Vancean fashion, the travellers encounter a wide variety of cultures. They are often forced to fight for their lives. They gather and lose additional comrades, including an immortal android of sorts, a seal man, and a human descended from a group which once ruled Paragaea.

Inevitably they are led to the mysterious city of Atla, perhaps the oldest city on Paragaea. There Leena hopes to find the secret to travel back to Earth, while Balam, it turns out, encounters his long lost daughter. And Hieronymus simply hopes to find a way to stay with Leena. And the reader learns intriguing secrets about the nature of this world.

As I said, this book is a lot of fun to read. It isn't a masterpiece: the prose is a bit uneven, the action is fun but not terribly original, the plot, as typical with quest books of this sort, is slightly rambling. But I enjoyed myself, and I enjoyed and cared for the characters. Roberson has produced some excellent short fiction in the past few years, and this book (his second novel) suggests he will be producing engaging longer works as well.

Copyright © 2006 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at

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