cover image Young Bleys

Young Bleys

Gordon R. Dickson. Tor Books, $19.95 (456pp) ISBN 978-0-312-93130-8

Dickson ( Wolf and Iron ) returns to his monumental Childe Cycle, begun in 1959 with Dorsai! Stepping back from the events of the past two volumes, this installment details the childhood and maturation of the visionary leader Bleys Ahrens. Precocious Bleys becomes a nuisance to his mother and is sent to live with his uncle, a pious farmer on the backwater planet Association. There his elder brother Dahno, simlarly exiled, recruits him as partner in his interstellar organization of Others, those whose parentage is mixed among the three Splinter Cultures: Exotics, Friendlies and Dorsai. Eventually Bleys takes over the organization and turns it to his own, grander ends--the dominance of the many worlds by the Others. Dickson's work harks back to an earlier decade: there are no cyberpunks here; many of the SF trappings, such as floating chairs and electronic ``readers'' instead of printed books, seem outdated; women are practically invisible. Nevertheless the book is engaging and the prose serviceable, and fans of the series will not be disappointed. Dickson's work leaves the borders of the genre unchallenged, but reveals some of that genre's traditional strengths. (Apr.)