cover image A Splendid Chaos: An Interplanetary Fantasy

A Splendid Chaos: An Interplanetary Fantasy

John Shirley. Franklin Watts, $17.95 (357pp) ISBN 978-0-531-15065-8

Kidnapped by the alien Meta, college student Martin Wirth (nickname: ""Zero'') wakes up on another planet. The previous abductees call it ``Fool's Hope'' for its combative population of shanghaied extraterrestrials (31 different races) and its own poisonous wonderland of an environment. Is this a game, an experiment, some sort of punishment? No one knows, and the never-seen Meta aren't saying. To counter behavioral psychology professor Harmon Fiskle's warlike, imperial dreams, Zero mounts a multi-species expedition to a Meta progress station, seeking answers. This lively adventure does come to a rather moralistic ending, and Shirley's fertile imagination sometimes outstrips his descriptive powers; but the world he's created is a knockout, from telepathic Venus's-flytraps to the floating radioactive Current that instantly Twists a person into a grotesque parody of his inner fears and desires. Shirley is the author of the Eclipse trilogy. (April)