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Alan Dean Foster has written in a variety of genres, including hard science fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He is also the author of numerous nonfiction articles on film, science, and scuba diving, as well as novel versions of several films including Star Wars, the first three Alien films, and Alien Nation. His novel Cyber Way won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990, the first science fiction work to ever do so. Foster's love of the far-away and exotic has led him to travel extensively. He's lived in Tahiti and French Polynesia, traveled to Europe, Asia, and throughout the Pacific, and has explored the back roads of Tanzania and Kenya. He has rappelled into New Mexico's fabled Lechugilla Cave, panfried piranha (lots of bones, tastes a lot like trout) in Peru, white-water rafted the length of the Zambezi's Batoka Gorge, and driven solo the length and breadth of Namibia. Foster and his wife, JoAnn Oxley, reside in Prescott, Arizona, in a house built of brick that was salvaged from a turn-of-the-century miners' brothel. He is presently at work on several new novels and media projects.
Derivative and predictable, this second novel in Foster's Founding of the Commonwealth series reinforces the lesson that looks can be deceiving. When Alwyn Mallory explores the new world of Argus V, he inadvertently becomes part of the first contact team to meet the alien Pitar. Unlike the unpleasantly buglike alien thranx, the Pitar are "drop-dead, overpoweringly, stunningly, gorgeous." Relations with the friendly but disliked thranx slow to a crawl as humanity overwhelmingly embraces the Pitar. Their telegenic appearances are so compelling that the media scarcely notices when the thranx are attacked by terrorists in a protected diplomatic enclave on Earth. Possibly the only good thing to come out of the slaughter is the founding of a joint religion by two clerics, one human and one thranx. As years pass, and the Pitar continue to refuse access to their homeworld, the media spin explains that they are "shy" and refuses to believe they could have anything to hide. Meanwhile, humanity is happily expanding through the galaxy and colonizing Argus VÄuntil disaster strikes and all 600,000 colonists are hideously slaughtered by an unknown force. When Mallory is discovered, crazed and near death, hiding on one of the Argus's moons, he is the only hope humankind has for ascertaining just who the villainous, slaughtering aliens really are. Although Foster implies that interesting things are going to happen with human-thranx religious philosophies, that doesn't happen in this novel. Instead we get a vision of humanity as a race unable to see beyond the reflection of surface beauty and incapable of restraining itself from its basest instincts when that enhanced mirror is shattered. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
When the human colonists of the planet Treetrunk encounter the Pitar, a new race of aliens seemingly intent on peaceful exploration and cultural exchange, they embrace their newfound friends as potential allies in the newly formed Humanx Commonwealth. An unexpected planetary tragedy, however, leads to the suspicion that the aliens' allure conceals darker motivations. The sequel to Phylogenesis continues Foster's saga of the early years of the human-alien confederation made popular in his "Flinx" series. Fast-paced action and likable human and alien protagonists make this a good choice for most sf collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.