Two for the s-f shelf

Brightness Falls From The Air, by James Tiptree, Jr. A TOR Book: first mass market printing, April 1986. 382 pp. $3.50. Don't miss Raccoona Sheldon's pseudonymous tale of observers caught in the baleful light-show auroras of a mysteriously dying star whose long-dead inhabitants reach out and touch them. She moves us with the plight of a victimized winged race of aliens and the loving and heroic caretakers who would die to protect them from further harm. Everything that is decent under any sun is theatened by remorselessly immoral money-hungry villians -- and saved by an unlikely band of traveling players Shakespeare would have loved. If ``Hamlet'' is a philosophical detective story, so is this, and to the only begetter of ``Brightness,'' one can only say -- for this relief, much thanks. Drinker of Souls, by Jo Clayton. Daw books, 1986. 335 pp. $3.50.

Wade past the formulaic mystification and the Monty Python-esque silly name litanies (Aituatea, Kadda, Hina, Godalu, and Woda-An). Don't give up the ship called Girl and the girl called Brann (alias Bramble-all-thorns) and you will (after earthquake deities rumble under the volcano) be rewarded by a tapestry-like tale of loyalty and love, art and artistry, cruelty and faith. Exotic dancers choreograph the best part of the plot and a satisfying revenge is assured by a pair of deceptively cherubic scene-stealing shape shifters named Yaril and Jaril.

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