Reviews: Shaw, Bob

As if Larry Niven had been mugged by Olaf Stapledon and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The Palace of Eternity — Bob Shaw

Bob Shaw’s 1969 novel The Palace of Eternity is almost a mirror image of this week’s Tanith Lee: it starts off looking like the hardest of hard SF, then heads off into territory more often associated with fantasy.

Sickened by his experiences in the great war between humanity and the alien Pythsyccans, retired soldier Mack Travener settles on the planet Mnemosyne. Conventional interstellar craft cannot approach the planet, which is surrounded by a shell of fragments left by two shattered moons. Mnemosyne seems doomed to remain an eternal backwater. Inexplicably, despite its rustic nature, the planet is a hotbed of creativity, particularly artistic creativity.

Mack’s attempt to reinvent himself as a civilian mechanic on a planet of peaceful artists is short-lived.

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Bob Shaw’s love letter to Canada

Vertigo — Bob Shaw

1979’s Vertigo is not my first Bob Shaw novel. That would be Who Goes Here.

It’s also not my favourite Bob Shaw novel. That would be The Palace of Eternity.


It is, however, the only Bob Shaw novel set in Canada1.

Well, Alberta. But as an Ontarian I regard all of the lesser provinces with equal favour. At least they aren’t Manitoba! Well, except for poor Manitoba.

Today’s venerables mourn the bustling Moon bases and omnipresent jet packs promised by the futurists and SF writers of ages past. Air Patrolman Rob Hasson’s twenty first century may not have moon bases 2, but it definitely has the counter-gravity harness, that marvelous device that gave the freedom of the skies to millions.

Millions of idiots.

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