cover image Strange Music

Strange Music

Alan Dean Foster. Del Rey, $27 (269) ISBN 978-1-101-96760-7

Foster’s popular adventuring team return, eight years after the publication of Flinx Transcendent, for their lively 15th sci-fi adventure, set in a world where language is song. Genetically engineered empath Flinx and loyal flying serpent Pip are called out of quiet retirement by the religious branch of the galaxy-spanning Commonwealth to investigate rumors that someone is illegally passing technology to Largess, a low-tech world that’s not ready for it. What sounds like a simple job quickly turns into a mission to prevent a war when the first-born daughter of a powerful Larian lord is kidnapped by the man behind the illegal weapons trade. An added complication is the Larian language, called “singspeak”: sentences are phrased artfully and sung. It’s like being surrounded by “rehearsals for a dozen different operas,” and once someone starts to sing, Flinx’s ability to detect emotions or truthfulness is blocked. As usual, Foster balances brisk action with humor and supplies his alien worlds with lots of local color. Adventure-loving readers new to the series, as well as old fans, will enjoy Foster’s return to Commonwealth space. Agent: Vaughne Lee Hansen, Virginia Kidd Agency. (Nov.)