Daily Archives: January 21, 2012

52 books / 52 weeks – The Nowhere Hunt

Review – The Nowhere Hunt, Jo Clayton

A keeper? Ugh, no

And it started so well.

This week’s project for 52 Books in 52 Weeks was The Nowhere Hunt (Book Six of the Diadem), by Jo Clayton – a prolific science fiction author back in the eighties and nineties.

But Back In The Day, I loved her Skeen Trilogy – Skeen’s Leap; Skeen’s Return; and, to a lesser degree, Skeen’s Search – the adventures of an interstellar adventurer who gets herself stranded on a strange world which may not be exactly in our universe. So I bought a lot of other Claytons, including this one, and I’m finally reading it.

As I say, it begins well. A dying intelligent insect makes a pathetic plea for help, and Aleytys – the series’ heroine – agrees to take on a complex rescue mission. We’re solidly enmeshed in the tropes of habitual interstellar travel, multiple intelligent species interacting, and competent, daring women, all of which I enjoy.

Then suddenly we’re in a confusing story about primitive people who don’t seem to be exactly human on a hallucinogenic world, seen through the bloodthirsty eyes of their young oracle Roha. Eventually Aleytys turns up on the same planet and things become more understandable, but by that time I no longer cared. Roha’s tribe harasses mysterious demons from Outside, getting many of their brave warriors killed by “demons” in the process. Aleytys is captured by a bloodthirsty criminal and endures a forced march to the insects’ wrecked starship, getting many of the subordinate criminals killed by Roha’s tribe on the way. The insects endure a forced march back to base . . .and so on.

It was all very boring.

Why? I think the split focus was a major problem; I never understood the Primitive Natives well enough to empathize with their goals, and they kept pulling my attention away from Aleytys and her goals. Maybe Clayton was still learning her way back in 1981.

Simple. Simple?

This time, the Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Simple”. And you can’t get much simpler than a stop signal.

Unless, of course, it’s in an alphabet that’s foreign to you. That complicates things a little. I would add “unless it’s in a foreign language”, except that, as best I can tell, the Russian above transliterates as “STOP”.

At least the story of the picture is simple. There I was in St. Petersburg, six years ago, and I was just as startled then as I am now that the words seem to be the same in Russian and English.

Stone 12a, twenty-first day


The snow remembers. In the night
a rabbit came this way. Its long
back feet left vees to say that it
was here. And over there, a line
of dots commemorates a squirrel,
or else perhaps the local cat.

I leave no tracks. Instead I pick
up shovelfuls of snow and toss
them left or right before my feet
arrive. A tropic creature, wrapped
in shirt and sweatshirt, coat, gloves, hat,
pretending to be warm, erased,
unwritten, from this snowy history.

(And yes, I found myself composing this one while outside shoveling today’s inch of crusted-over wet snow and hoping the freezing rain doesn’t start up again. The animal tracks looped across our yard.)

Stone 12, twenty-first day

Today, I’ll Lie

The world is striped this morning, white
snow balanced on dark branches, cold.
I’m tired of writing about cold.
I think I’ll say it’s sand, white sand,
this street’s a beach with hot bright blazing sun,
I’ll claim the world’s turned upside down to let
our north end of the earth get summer now.