Robert J. Sawyer:Fossil Hunter

Robert Sawyer is one of the fastest-rising authors today. Having heard him speak knowledgeably about how one has to work on one's career to get anything out of it, I'm not terribly surprised.

I've also heard that he always wanted to be a paleontologist. So it's not that surprising that he has three books out on a planet of sentient dinosaurs, the first being Far-Seer and the most recent being Foreigner.

My main objection to the series so far is how scientific progress seems to be accelerated. In the last book, the main character, Afsan became Galileo, as well as Columbus/Magellan. In this book, Toroca, one of Afsan's sons becomes Darwin. I kept sighing as I read things, saying, "Oh, no! Not another piece of evidence in favour of evolution! How could they have missed them for so long?" Of course, things are somewhat more complicated than on Earth. How dinosaurs got to Quintaglio(from Earth)is explained...

But Sawyer also juggles several other plots. First, some background: Quintaglios have an extreme territorial instinct, violation of which can throw them into a frenzy. They lay eggs in clutches of eight, but to avoid overpopulation, a "bloodpriest" culls seven hatchlings from each clutch.

Afsan, being a worldwide hero(having discovered, among other things, that Quintaglio is only a few hundred kilodays away from destruction as it draws nearer to the gas giant it orbits), was granted the survival of all his children. When it is revealed that, for years, the family of the Emperor has received the same treatment, the public reception is not as favourable, and they demand a belated culling; in the meantime, they refuse to let culling of their own eggs take place, resulting in a "baby boom".

Meanwhile, Afsan's children are dying, one by one, the victims of cold-blooded murder, a rare crime on Quintaglio...Afsan, despite being blind, attempts to track down the culprit.

And then Toroca stumbles onto a buried spaceship(a la McCaffrey's The White Dragon), made of an indestructible material...

Sawyer keeps the tension on as he interweaves the various plotlines throughout the book. I would most emphatically state that this book does not suffer as second books of trilogies normally do. Read Far-Seer, if you haven't already, then read this one. And watch for it at Hugo time.

%A Sawyer, Robert J.
%T Fossil Hunter
%I Ace
%C New York
%D May 1993
%G ISBN 0-441-24884-5
%P 290 pp.
%S Quintaglio
%V Book 2
%O Paperback, US$4.99, Can$5.99

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com