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1. Titan (Gaea)
2. Rolling Thunder
3. Demon (Gaea)
4. The John Varley Reader
5. Millennium
6. Red Lightning (Red Thunder)
7. Wizard (Gaea)
8. Red Thunder
9. The Golden Globe
10. Steel Beach
11. Mammoth
12. The Ophiuchi Hotline
13. The Barbie Murders
14. Persistence of Vision
15. The Persistence of Vision (Quantum
16. Superheroes
17. The Gaean Trilogy: Titan, Wizard,
18. Titan, Book Club Edition (Gaea)
19. Picnic On Nearside
20. James Holmes And John Varley (1894)

1. Titan (Gaea)
by John Varley
Paperback: 320 Pages (1987-04-15)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441813046
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
John Varley's monumental Gaean trilogy--repackaged. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (64)

5-0 out of 5 stars Can I be an Titantide when I die?
John Varley's world is a world of wonder. A living being as a planet with a host of fabulous indigenous species called Gaea is slowly dying and taking on this God is Scirroco Jones and her crew from Earth.
I first read this series when it came out in 1978 and recently got the entire series on Audiobook. I remembered liking it very much the first time and the years have not diminished my enjoyment of the story and the fantastic setting. Varley's procreation scheme for the dominate Centaur like Titantides is ingenious and their communication by song and family grouping by chord is fascinating. Massive blimplike creatures serve as air transportation - in their stomachs and there is a race of Angels who are just like angels.
It's a world of non-humans dreamed up and manufactured by the God like Gaea who was inspired by the movies she viewed from Earth.
The characters are mostly likable even after enduring rebirth in the Titan and the world is filled with dangers like a resident King Kong and flying buzzbombs.
If it existed I would go.

1-0 out of 5 stars fun story told by a lousy writer; turn into garbage later: beware!
A few things become evident in the course of reading this book. One is that Varley has never actually met a human being and has no idea at all how they interact. Second, he has never met a scientist and has no idea how they think. The cover of the edition I'm reading quotes Asimov, of all people, comparing Varley to a "young Heinlein". He can only have meant very, very young - perhaps pre-adolescent, OR he was quoted in referring to something entirely different Varley had written. It really is a good story, very creative, fun, etc. Even a little compelling. But it cries out for characters who make some kind of sense, and dialog that to some degree represents what these folks might conceivably say to one another. Both are missing. *** First Update: Oddly, as the book progresses it gets worse and worse. Some sequences simply make no sense at all, and this can't possibly have ever been looked over by a competent editor. The only explanation for most of what goes on is: the author says so. There's no other internal logic, no cohesion, just the undisciplined imagination of a guy with bad grammar, poor short-term memory and a completely unjustified determination to keep typing. *** 2nd and last update: Ihave abandoned this turkey as it has descended into gibberish. So ought the author to have done. Abandon hope all ye who read past page 100, more or less.

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing beginning and middle, but ending saves Titan...
Having been nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula was enough to get me to read this sci fi.On a whole you can expect the quality of the books that were nominated and/or won either prestigious award to be better than average.Varley's Titan certainly fits the bill, but what I have also come to expect as that many of the earlier nominees and winners can have a very dated feel to them, and Titan also fits that bill.

I had trouble getting in to this one because of how dated it felt, in both the writing and the type of sci fi genre of the time.Often slow and never with any sort of action of some sort to inject life in the beginning stages of the book, Titan followed the well worn genre path of discovering an alien world and then exploring it, oftentimes on accident.This had a very similar feel to Rendezvous with Rama, a Hugo and Nebula winner, where both were exploring and unimaginably large world with its own ecosystems and weather patterns.Both had the dated feel to them that detracted from the storytelling and ultimately made me, in today's age, not care to read it.

I pushed on, though, and ultimately found that it began to turn around and become enjoyable.This didn't really happen until the Titanides and the Angels fought, the first plot sequence of any kind to make me sit up and take notice.From there, ultimately, the real tale of the book shines through as we see the epic struggle that Cirocco and Gaby go through, both physically and mentally.They struggle to the top of the world to speak to Gaea and get answers, ultimately coming in to another ecosystem where the Angels lived.This section was altogether fascinating and intriguing and fully set up the rest of the trilogy and , more specifically, lead in to the next in the series, Wizard.

I could not possibly give it more than three stars just because of how uninteresting the bulk of the story was, but I couldn't give it any lower than a three star either because of the fascinating ending and lead in to the rest of the trilogy.I can't say that I look forward to reading Wizard, but I certainly won't hesitate if the chance arises despite the beginning and middle of Titan.A tentative recommend.

3 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just great
I read this trilogy many year ago.saw the trail of James Cameron Avatar,and remember this trilogy.One of the best read ever.A must read!If you love SF you'r will love this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hot Fire
This was a really good book. The hero goes though trials and tribulations, you couldn't even imagine. And then afterwards, they are thrown more trials. It's really robust with a lot going on. If you do intend to read this one, you should get the other two because they complete each other to make for a wonderfully epic journey. ... Read more

2. Rolling Thunder
by John Varley
Hardcover: 344 Pages (2008-03-04)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$6.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001KOTUDI
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Lieutenant Patricia Kelly Elizabeth Strickland-otherwise known as Podkayne-is a third-generation Martian. Her grandfather, Manny, was one of the first men to set foot on Mars. So Poddy has some planet-sized shoes to fill. That's why she's joined the Music, Arts, and Drama Division of the Martian Navy. Though some may say her voice is a weapon in itself, Poddy passed the audition. And now she's going to Europa, one of Jupiter's many moons, to be an entertainer. But she's about to learn that there's plenty of danger to go around in the Martian Navy, even if you've just signed on to sing. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Surprise
As a longtime fan of Johns' work I grabbed this book and consumed it voraciously. Having read the other books in his Mars trilogy (Red Thunder, Red Lightning) I had thought them as a separate thought or arc from his "Nine planets" stories but no, these books are defiantly at the heart of those earlier works. Now if he could find a way to tie in his Gaia trilogy.......

2-0 out of 5 stars Nice try, but not very good.
I used to be a big John Varley fan, but am now pretty disappointed.Some of the older books are very good, and it's obvious he greatly amires Heinlein.Personally, I don't understand the infatuation with RH, as the guy writes the same stories over and over, but what the heck, I'm sure there are some good reasons, and the guy is practically a god in the sci-fi pantheon.

The protagnist is an 18 year old cadet in the Martian Navy.Only she's 18 going on about 40 in her understanding of the world.Seriously, if human 18 year olds were this worldly and understanding that would be truly amzing.So while this is hard sci-fi, and that by definition stretches the bounds of practicality, it seems that only the Garcia-Strickland and Broussard clans are born of such stock, and the remainder of humanity is much more average (or worse - there are some good parts like when Poddy discourages a vapid "Earthie" from emmigrating to Mars).

There are also some parts, especially towards the end of the book where it looks like Varley just got tired of writing or something.There are several plot lines or story arcs that end more or less abruptly, and he just sums up what happened.This is the kind of stuff I expect in excessively complicated stories (Robert Jordan), or very long movies.But an average length paperback?What happened there?Did he run into some kind of deadline from an advance or contract?

Varley's books are definitely written for adults, complete with adult language, themes, sex, violence, and all the details you can imagine.For the most part I regards this as a good thing because so much of life and civilization is not rated PG-13.

I wouldn't call this the worst ever or even a waste of money, but John Varley has written some *much* better novels and short stories than Rolling Thunder.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reinterpretation
Quire a few others have noted that in his "Thunder" series John Varley is continuously referring to Robert Heinlein's novels. But what I haven't seen so far is the notion, which struck me after the second book of the series and seems still more pertinent after the third, that what Varley is doing here is reimagining Heinlein's entire sequence of juveniles for another age.

From 1947 through 1962, Heinlein wrote a total of 14 juveniles. The first dozen were published by Scribner's; they rejected STARSHIP TROOPERS as too adult and this effectively ended the series, although a final junvenile, PODKAYNE OF MARS, was published tree years later.

The Heinlein novels. although all stand alone, in fact describe a sequence of future events. The first of them, ROCKET SHIP 'GALILEO', gives an account of the first trip to the Moon; later ones introduce Mars, Venus, Jupiter's moon Ganymede and the Asteroid belt; after that, the novels make the leap to the stars, initially in early explorations, later on in the series into a galaxy largely explored by mankind. In this respect, PODKAYNE OF MARS is a throwback to the earlier part of the sequence.

What strikes me is that Varley is more or less writing the same sequence of stories, beginning on Earth, going on to Mars and, in the newest book, envisioning future trips to the stars. I hope he continues there. These novels are very close in feel to the Heinlien stories, but firmly placed in the context of a future bleivable in the present. Heinlein was never able to let his characters actually have sex, as Scribner's editors wouldn't allow it; instead he made fun of their prejudices by making his main characters so naive that even early 1950s teenagers must have gotten the point (in TUNNEL THROUGH THE SKY, the hero lives for a month in a cave on an alien planet with a girl without realizing that she isn't a boy; when another boy happens along, he knows it within minutes). I note that someone else commenting on these books feels that their sexual openness should bar them from any child's reading list; this to me seems pure idiocy. Kids today grow up watching ads, TV shows and movies depicting sex openly and continuously; Varley's novels accept it as part of life. I find that commendable and if anything adding to their merit as superior juvenile science fiction.

The Heinlein project was in a sense unique. Almost no other major sf author made a similar effort to write at the top of his or her form for young readers, possibly with the exception of Andre Norton and Ted White. Varleys novels are in my view the best sf juveniles to be published over the last at least three decades; if there is anyt writing around today more prone to make younger readers advance from Harry Potter to science fiction, I've yet to find out about it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Homage to Heinlein
I won't attempt to summarize the book, as there are some excellent reviews that do that well. The book is part of the continuing homage to Heinlein. "Red Thunder" did up "Rocketship Galileo" (and some of the "Rolling Stones" and went it some better. "Red Lightning" had those elements of "The moon is a harsh mistress", with the war against earth. "Red Thunder" is obviously "Podkayne of Mars" with an older, more capable girl.

If you are paying homage to Heinlein, you are courting the readers who grew up on him, so some of the retro music, etc is not unreasonable. Besides, who can predict what musical taste will be 50 years from now?

I thought it was amusing that, once again, in a Varley universe, aliens from Jupiter (or at least one of its moons) kicked humanity off of earth. But this time for reasons unknown. That doesn't bother me because hey, they're really alien, not humanoids with all to similar habits and tastes.

As someone pointed out, the "black bubble" technology is more developed in this book. Good stuff, especially for making an ark. But as wonderful as it is, useless against the aliens... scary thought that. But the personal survival units were a good concept.

I'm glad our favorite Cajun inventor got to make a comeback. In the first two books, he was interesting, but not really developed. Here he finally meets someone who actually listens to him and discovers there is more than everyone thought. Of course she had to practically die first... but they will have time enough for love.

The trial of Podkayne was interesting. I think Heinlein would have approved.
And the driving sequence was pretty funny...

5-0 out of 5 stars A worthy addition to the Red Thunder series
This book is the third book in a series that started with an unlikely group of people, including a Cajun ex-astronaut and his genius brother, who beat the Chinese in being the first humans on Mars, using a radical new technology even its inventor doesn't fully understand.

Lieutenant Patricia Kelly Elizabeth Podkayne Strickland-Garcia-Redmond, a third-generation member of the Martian pioneer family, narrates the story. She goes by only one of her many names, Podkayne. She says she's never read Robert A. Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars because she doesn't care much for science fiction. She's 18 as the book begins, a third-generation Martian whose grandparents were among the first to reach Mars. She's in the Music, Arts and Drama Division of the Martian Navy, and as the book opens, she's enduring Earth gravity (Mars has a gravity that's 38% of Earth's) in Pismo Beach, California weeding out people who want to emigrate to Mars.

But soon Podkayne's on her way back to Mars because her great-grandmother, close to dying, has elected to go into a time-suspending bubble. After her extended family sees off their matriarch, Podkayne heads off to Europa, one of Jupiter's moons to entertain Martian Navy personnel and scientists there and at other scientific outposts in the Jovian system. She's a singer/songwriter/composer, and teams up with other musicians in Podkayne and the Pod People. It seems a safe enough, and even creative, way to spend her mandatory time in the service. Safe, that is, until she's in the wrong place at the wrong time.

John Varley uses the breezy, informal and often humorous style of Podkayne to tell of sweeping events that shape the history of Earth and Mars. It's a troubled history, and global warming on Earth turns out to be only part of the trouble. Podkayne is very articulate, but she's no rocket scientist, so things get explained pretty much in layman's terms. She's an entertainer, and events propel her to the heights of fame, something Varley appears to have learned a lot about during his years in Hollywood. Podkayne's journey through the part of her life told in the book takes several unexpected turns, eventually taking her further than she'd ever imagined. ... Read more

3. Demon (Gaea)
by John Varley
Mass Market Paperback: 480 Pages (1987-05-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441142672
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The satellite-sized alien Gaea has gone completely insane. She has transformed her love of old movies into monstrous realities. She is Marilyn Monroe. She is King Kong. And now she must be destroyed. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Demon
I purchased this book as one of the three in this series.I had these books long ago and was so very happy to not only locate the books, but to purchase them at reasonable rates and in new book condition.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fine adventure it was ...
And I'm sorry it's ended. It leaves you wanting more, which is exactly the point.But Varley ends it all wonderfully.What an imagination on this guy! The rest of the reviews here say it all, and better than I can.If you love sci-fi then this trilogy is a must. And of course you have to start at the beginning (Titan).

Long Live Rocky!

5-0 out of 5 stars DEMON, part three of the Gaea trilogy
Cirroco and Gaby have quietly planned to overthrow the mad Titan, Gaea, right the wrongs done them and their friends and restore peace.Cirroccos rebelliousness has earned her a new title.Gaea is a bit miffed with her.The saga unfolds revealing just how vile a being with umimaginably huge power can be.Gaeas form is the Wheel, and while it cannot travel her power reaches even Earth, wreaking destruction.
DEMON is a gripping story and concludes the trilogy with bold, emotionally powerful strokes.
Like any really GOOD yarn, it leaves you dreaming of times, places and peoples that aren't!

5-0 out of 5 stars Varley is Great!
This book, being the third in John Varley's 'Gaia' Series, is typical Varley in the twists, the turns, the way the story goes along where you do not want to put the book down, and og course, the surprising ending as is typical of Varley.

John Varley is a great author!

5-0 out of 5 stars End of the series amazing conclusion
This is the third in the Gaea (Gaia) trilogy by Varley and is the best one of the whole lot. While titan and wizard focus on the relationships between species, demon takes a wholly action viewpoint, and when you have man, titanide against crazed near goddess, you know the story has to be good.

If you skip any pages you will miss something. The story closes out how gabby will overthrow gaea, and preserve her friends from the earth space ship that crashed a hundred years back. You learn that the devastating war on earth was caused by Gaea, and how Gaea also tries to save people from their own problems on earth. You also learn how the heroine overthrows the power structure in association with the surviving members of the original space ship crew. Then there is the final battle that is just too wild to read and will not share that one here, you have to read the book.

This is another five of five star book, and probably some of the best things that varley has ever written. Worth getting and reading.
... Read more

4. The John Varley Reader
by John Varley
Paperback: 532 Pages (2004-09-07)
list price: US$33.00 -- used & new: US$10.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441011950
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From the moment John Varley burst onto the scene in 1974, his short fiction was like nothing anyone else was writing. His stories won every award the science fiction field had to offer, many times over. His first collection, The Persistence of Vision, published in 1978, was the most important collection of the decade, and changed what fans would come to expect from science fiction.

Now, The John Varley Reader gathers his best stories, many out of print for years. This is the volume no Varley fan-or science fiction reader-can do without. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Review of the John Varley Reader
I found this to be an excellent collection showing Varley's evolution as a writer over 30+ years.It has some of his best short works such as Persistence of Vision, In The Hall of the Martian Kings and The Phantom of Kansas.

Varley does a good job exploring the social impacts of scientific advances.In Options, he explores the social impacts of easy sex change operations.This short story is so well written that I wasn't really sure of the sex of the main character, and then found that it really didn't make a difference!

I recommend Varley's Titan series - Titan, Wizard and Demon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Sci Fi
If you are interesting is good Sci Fi that is not a 'repeat', try this book.I was researching golden age sci fi and found this book ! I'm almost done and very happy I had gotten this book.As with all my reading, I do so on my Kindle and I'm happy with the format.

5-0 out of 5 stars Varley well read
Excellent must-have anthology of the author's best tales, otherwise scattered amongst a variety of hard to find collections. Re-reading it shows just how sharp, inventive and on his game the early Varley was when he first entered the science fiction scene, also - in this reviewer's opinion - how much ground he's lost since penning the wonderful Gaia trilogy (Titan, Wizard, Demon) Readers who only know the author's work through juvenalia such as Red Lightening, Red Thunder, et al. should acquire this one. Stand-out stories include The Barbie Murders, Air Raid and the still spooky Press *Enter.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential Varley Short Science Fiction
If you're new to Varley and want to explore his short stories, or a long time fan but just want a collection of his short fiction, this is the collection to get.It has the very best of his short fiction including three Hugo and Nebula award winners.These are "The Persistence of Vision," "Press Enter" and "The Pusher."I have always thought "Press Enter" and "The Pusher" were two of the most powerful and original science fiction stories I've ever read."Press Enter" is spine chilling and creepy but only after reading the last page.Before then it's an enjoyable murder mystery and love story."The Pusher" is the best science fiction story ever written about time dilation for space travelers.In addition, "Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo" will hold your attention to the very tragic end.Varley is one of the best writers in America today.He just happens to write science fiction.This is a collection of his best short stuff with the author's fascinating intros and comments for each story.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Storytelling from John Varley
John Varley sold his first story, "Picnic on Nearside," in 1974. By 1985 his stories had garnered him three Hugo Awards, two Nebula Awards, and nine Locus Awards, with a tenth Locus in 1987. This collection includes all of the Hugo and Nebula stories and several of the Locus stories. It's a great place to start if you've heard of Varley but haven't read him yet. Even if you have his other collections, you'll want this one as well, not only for the new material, but for the author's extensive comments that precede each story. ... Read more

5. Millennium
by John Varley
Paperback: 272 Pages (1999-10-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441006779
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In the skies over Oakland, California, a DC-10 and a 747 are about to collide. And in the far distant future, a time-travel team is preparing to snatch the passengers, leaving prefabricated smoking bodies behind for the rescue teams to find. A brilliant thriller from the award-winning author of Steel Beach. MM: Berkley. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

4-0 out of 5 stars Time Travel Lite
I generally like stories about time travel, or variations such as alternate history.In John Varley's Millennium, I particularly liked the snatch team leader Louise Baltimore.I liked her because of her super competent, no excuses accepted, unsentimental attitude.

However, I do have a bone to pick.Varley depicts a linear, single-stream time flow, which by definition would be prone to undergoing paradoxes.I can understand this in the time of H. G. Wells, but with modern theoretical physics proposing such concepts as multiple time lines with each having different probabilites, it seems to me to be rather simplistic.For more information, please check out Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics.

Nevertheless, I still like the book and would recommend it highly.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, conniving and terrorizing- lacks wholesome details
Based on the short story Air Raid in Varley's collection Persistence of Vision, Millennium doesn't stray far from the original plot, thankfully. Reading the oddball short story was a riot- it's a rarity when sheer originality becomes fused with bizarro and humor. To see that the short story was expanded into a novel was ravishingly inviting.

Air Raid was a straight forward story of future human/mutants warp jumping into doomed airliners to replace the living passenger with dummies and send the living one back to the future for their project. Millennium maintains much of Air Raid greatness but also adds characterization with Louise Baltimore (future mutant and goat chucker), Bill Smith (disaster investigator and whiskey slugger) and Sherman (robot companion and wise overseer). The unfolding scenes with these main characters go back and forth, as the book, itself, reads like an investigation where each cast member given a testimony per chapter. Some sections are drearily enlightening in character flaws, devilishly conniving in subterfuge or blatantly terrorizing in gruesomeness. These three attributes give the story a strong base to build more subtle points, but somehow manages to lack in this area. Many points are expounded but don't match the reality of the situation so they fall out of the limelight. The most obvious case of this is the airline disaster investigation: Why were some of the clocks 45 minutes fast while others counted backwards? How do look at the reason-defying stomach contents (and why did they even CHECK that anyway)?Further, the descriptions of far-future earth are limited to air quality and general sobriety. I wasn't touched by the importance of their ultimate job (which differs from the short story a little bit).

Overall, the short story provided a strong base for a great novel, as did the three main bulletpoints but failed in the three degrees which an expanded novel is supposed to facilitate: detail, detail, detail. Instead, we are met with garnishment, embellishment and some very cool mutants (that can't be overlooked!).

5-0 out of 5 stars You have to read Millennium!
I first read this book in the 80's and fell in love with it! It is what got me into science fiction and I've never looked back. I saw in at Amazon.com and thought what a great time it would be to read it again after all those years. As my first copy got borrowed and never returned. I read it and it is still one of the best books I've ever read. A must read!!!

3-0 out of 5 stars So so
I agree with the one reviewer that this is like a short story that was dragged out into a novel. There just isn't enough muscle to move the story along.

4-0 out of 5 stars For time travel freaks
If you like movies that involve time travel (and who doesn't?) this is the book for you. I like to look for flaws in most time travel books/movies. There are usually many. Varley has written an engaging science fiction book that seems to be written with consideration taken for the critical eye of people like me. Layered over a plot that has you at the edge of your seat, Varley addresses technical aspects and consequences of time travel. I remember the old Chiffon Margarine TV commercial from the 70's... "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature." Well, Varley teaches us a lesson similar to that in this book. It's not nice to fool Father Time. ... Read more

6. Red Lightning (Red Thunder)
by John Varley
Paperback: 368 Pages (2007-04-24)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441014887
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The son of one of the first men to fly to Mars and back, Ray Garcia-Strickland is now a disgruntled Martian, tired of the Red Planet's overdevelopment and the gravity-dependent tourist Earthies. But that doesn't stop him from fearing the worst when Earth is struck by an unknown object, causing a massive tsunami. Living high on his father's glory was okay, but now Ray must literally come down to Earth-and solve one of its greatest mysteries. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

2-0 out of 5 stars One of his worst
Tied for first place with "Mammoth" as the worst John Varley book I've read.

I usually love his stuff and have read Titan, Wizard, Demon each about five times and recommend them to everyone.

This novel could have been a very, very short story. Way too much explanation on just about everything. How to move in low gee gravity, showering in low gee, the state of Florida and dead bodies, life on Mars, how "earthies" suck at moving on Mars. How to get from Mars to one of it's moons. Pretty much a lot of filler, very little plot, nothing extraordinary or unique or interesting about the book. One new, boring invention from Jubal, no new uses for the squeezer.

Just not a lot of work went into this one.

LOVED Red Thunder. Have read it twice. This was a very disappointing sequel.

4-0 out of 5 stars I'll be buying more Varley books
Well-paced, believable characters and dialog, and a compelling -- albeit occasionally improbable -- story, reminiscent of Robert Heinlein's early "juvenile" (now called young adult) science fiction, yet updated to the modern day and featuring a more culturally diverse cast of characters.*

In fact, the three books in Varley's series contain many obvious nods to Heinlein, so it's clear he was influenced by those stories too.

I liked Red Thunder and Red Lightning a lot. I'll be buying more John Varley books.

[* Heinlein's books were very culturally diverse, actually, but his stories for teens less obviously so, and for some readers his books suffer from having been written in the context of the 1950s, '60s, etc.]

5-0 out of 5 stars Good old-fashioned sci-fi
With a career that spans over thirty years, John Varley is only moderately prolific, with just over a dozen novels to his name.Fortunately, he is an author who is well worth the wait between books.Red Lightning once again shows why he continues to be one of the greats in science fiction.

Red Lightning is the sequel to Red Thunder.The earlier novel dealt with a group of young adults who build their own spaceship despite government intervention (similar to The Astronaut Farmer (which came later), but also plotted rather differently).Red Lightning takes place a couple decades later and is narrated by Ray Garcia-Strickland, son of one of the Red Thunder heroes.In the intervening years between the two books, humanity has successfully colonized Mars and established based throughout the solar system.Earth, however, remains the center of the human universe.

A mysterious object hits the Atlantic at near-light velocity, creating a massive tsunami that devastates the Caribbean and the east coast of the U.S., leading to economic and political crises.The first part of the book deals with Ray and his family going from Mars to Earth to explore the damage and rescue some relatives; the second portion, taking place on Mars, has Earth invading the colony and inadvertently sparking calls for independence.

When reading this book, you'd think that the Katrina disaster would have been an influence, but a look at the copyright shows it was published too soon after that hurricane to really have an impact on the novel (though Varley does refer to it in an afterword); it was the Indonesian tsunami of 2004 that had more influence.Literarily, there is an obvious Heinlein effect, especially Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Though dealing with heavy issues, Varley writes with a light touch (though not so light as to trivialize what's going on).This helps make Red Lightning another fun Varley novel.If you want to read good (or great) old-fashioned style science fiction, Varley delivers the goods with Red Lightning.

3-0 out of 5 stars Red Flag for Red Lightning
This is John Varley's latest novel and a sequel to "Blue Thunder."It is unfortunately not up to Varley's usually high mind blowing standard.It is not necessary to read "Blue Thunder" to enjoy this work.It is a satisfying story narrated by the son of the narrator of the earlier work.As I read it (I won't deny it's very interesting) I kept wanting something exciting to happen.Travis and Jubal Broussard are back with Jubal's interdimensional squeezed bubbles and a new Jubal creation he dubs "Stoppers" that bring time to a halt much like Larry Niven's "Stasis box."The excitement doesn't happen until the end, but it's a let-down.Varley used to write mind blowing science fiction in a literary package.Now we still have the package but the mind blowing parts are gone.I hope this is not a permanent trend and we can expect Varley's future work to deliver the science fiction wonders we've grown to expect from this first rate author.

3-0 out of 5 stars An Average Space Opera
This is my first book by John Varley and I was not impressed. In this book an unidentified object crashes into Earth causing a devastating tsunami. The main character is a seventeen-year-old Mars resident named Ray Garcia-Strickland surveys the damage, unaware the disaster may have been caused by his uncle's dangerous time-altering invention. A couple of things of note, this book is part of a sequel, it contains some descriptions of sex and has some strong language. ... Read more

7. Wizard (Gaea)
by John Varley
Paperback: 384 Pages (1987-05-15)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441900674
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Second in the Gaean Trilogy. Human explorers have entered the sprawling mind of the alien Gaea. Now they must fight her will. For she is much too powerful. And definitely insane. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best
i think this is the best of the trilogy and stands on its own. It was one of the most mind blowing books i've read. Its got it all, great characters, story, action, humor, tenderness. One of my favorites.

5-0 out of 5 stars Continues the greatness
A wonderful sequel to Varley's brilliant Titan. Book 2 of the classic sci-fi fantasy series known as the Gaea Trilogy. Great characters, fascinating setting, superb action, lots of humor, color, and sex. This novel picks up 80 or so years after the end of the first. Cirocco "Rocky" Jones the former space ship captain and now Wizard of the artificial world know as Gaea is the main character. At the beginning she has become an alcoholic sex-addict to escape the preassures of her massive responsibilities. She is prodded towards redemption by her longtime lover and companion Gaby. They hook up with two pilgrims from Earth and a satelite "coven" and travel the inner surface of the donut shaped world. The pilgrims Chris Major and Robin the Nine Fingered (no relation to Frodo) seek cures from the world's ruler and goddess Gaea. To acheive them they must perform great deeds or find treasures and face great perils in the process to prove their worthiness to Gaea. There are also Titanides a race of beautiful centaurs with three sets of genitalia, and living blimps and submarines. It's hard to give a full synopsis of this story if you haven't read the first book. John Varley has a very rich and fertile imagination sadly lacking in his later work. Don't miss this series. Would make a fantastic miniseries or movie trilogy but only if it was R or NC 17.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun read, excellent concept!
This product was shipped and delivered as expected.

This is the second book of the Titan trilogy. The story and characters are created very believably.

I did want to comment that I don't understand the reason for the soft-porn? It seems that SciFi of the earlier generations leaned toward being a front for a stag magazine, and sexual fantasy world of the author. This detracts very much from the story and cheapens an otherwise great science fiction tale and concept. Of the three Titan novels, "Wizard" was especially laced with this distracting soft porn. Really, if you are going to write a porn book just go all out. These lesbian scenarios only show the sexual ignorance of the author(s). No matter what their sexual orientations are, People and their relationships are not defined by their sexual acrobats and conquests.

Otherwise, John Varley's world of Gaea is a wonderful concept and its inhabitants are very well defined. The creatures stir my imagination which is what good SciFi is all about. His imagination is like "Alice in Wonderland" plus the best in science fact and fiction rolled in one. Bravo!

5-0 out of 5 stars WIZARD, part two of the Gaea trilogy
Cirrocco "Rocky" Jones accepts an offer from Gaea, and learns accepting anything from Gaea is like a crap game with loaded dice.Jones doesn't appreciate the joke played on her and a Gaean created race of beings she befriended.The Wizard of Gaea sets out to right the wrongs done them.
Fascinating parallels and wonderfully vivid storytelling.

5-0 out of 5 stars Totally love this series best books ever by John Varley
Obviously I loved this series, and have recently rediscovered it. The premise is that a super intelligent machine/being lives in the orbit of Saturn, this is the second book in series, start with titan, wizard, then demon, and you get the entire series. Picking up here first will just confuse the reader. You need to read the series in order to get the full scope of the story.

This book starts off with the Wizard of Gaea, or Cirroco Jones who has made allies with the titanides, and as now deeply rooted in their birthing cycle, only Jones saliva has an enzyme that will quicken the titanides eggs. From that premise, the exploration of Gaea, and what ends up happening with the very insane entity running the bigger ship around Saturn, you get some great story telling.

This is one of those stay up all night reading books, and given five of five stars for the book. Enjoyed rediscovering the series again.

... Read more

8. Red Thunder
by John Varley
Paperback: 416 Pages (2004-04-27)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$1.43
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441011624
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Seven suburban misfits are constructing a spaceship out of old tanker cars. The plan is to beat the Chinese to Mars--in under four days at three million miles an hour. It would be history in the making if it didn't sound so insane.Amazon.com Review
Debuting in 1974, John Varley became the decade's freshest, most exciting, and most important new science fiction author. He dominated the Seventies with numerous stories and two novels, set mostly in his Eight Worlds future history. By 1984 he had won three Hugo Awards and two Nebula Awards. Yet his output dwindled through the 1980s, and in the 1990s he released only two novels, Steel Beach and The Golden Globe, a pair of Eight Worlds books that received tepid responses.

Fans who feared Varley was devolving into another Robert A.Heinlein imitator may have mixed reactions to Red Thunder, Varley's first novel of the new millennium. Part of SF's turn-of-the-century trend of "Mars novels," but not part of Varley's Eight Worlds series, Red Thunder reads a lot like a Heinlein juvenile novel, if Heinlein were alive and writing juveniles in 2003. Varley's paying tribute to the Master's juveniles, especially Rocket Ship Galileo and Red Planet (and also, more subtly, to the ending of Alfred Bester's novel The Stars My Destination). Though Varley is working with decades-old tropes and is not in his full wildly-imaginative 1970s mode, Red Thunder is an enjoyable SF novel that should win back many disgruntled fans and gain him a new generation of admirers. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (72)

4-0 out of 5 stars hooray for interplanetary goofiness
With all the novelists writing in the genre "Florida Folks doing Weird Stuff," (Dave Barry, Carl Hiaasen, Joy Fielding, John D. MacDonald,)you'd think the genre had gotten stale and played out. Not so fast.With John Varley at the controls, six Florida folks, rather than trying to kill one another as they do in the novels of the authors mentioned above, pool their talents and actually do some constructive things. They save the U.S. space program, and transport two grand youth passtimes--monopoly and sex--into the cosmos.This isn't heavy literature, and it doesn't need to be.In a world of lost jobs, where you ask yourself late at night "Which is crumbling faster--my house or my marriage?"--books like this, goofy escapist fun reading, are cheaper than mood-altering drugs. And they don't have annoying side effects.Read for pure enjoyment.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Read for the Non-SF Fan!
Unlike many of the reviewers of this book, I have only an occasional interest in science fiction these days.I once was a big fan many years ago, but science fiction became too dark, too complex, and required too much knowledge about pre-established SF concepts and jargon.So for me, it was very refreshing to come across a funny, light-hearted, simple-to-understand story about adventurers to Mars. I found the characters very believable and enjoyable to spend time with.All in all, a terrific book -- one I would recommend to anyone, including older teens and non-science fiction fans.I'd even recommend this book to my wife(!), who claims to dislike science fiction. A very satisfying read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Is This Really The Author Of Titan?
Or is Enid Blyton writing under a Pseudonym?

Let's first get the genre out of the way .. this is not SciFi, it is 80% teenager romp/adventure story, 10% New Orleans redneck lifestyle and 10% SciFi.

Here is the story - (believe me, I am ruining nothing, but may be saving many hours of your valuable reading time). A bunch of young adults, with nothing better to do with their time, play around in cars in the south east american wilderness. Their lives are influenced by the Mars space program that launches from nearby. The Chinese are on their way to the first man landing on Mars, and the Americans a close second.

After meeting a drunk washed-up astronaut, one day they decide to beat the Chinese to Mars. So what they only have a few weeks, they have a super-weapon, the astronaut's retarded cousin. But (and here's the clever bit) he's only retarded in public .. at science he is a genius who invents a mode power that requires no fuel.

And so, armed with infinite power, they decide to build a spaceship out of old car bits, bin-liners and duct tape, and beat the Chinese to Mars. (Thrilling stuff, so far eh!)

Of course, they beat the Chinese to mars, in their homemade spaceship, but here's the really funny bit .. hang on I'm splitting my sides here .. While the Chinese are making their first broadcast back to Earth, from Mars, the kids (in their spacesuits) sneak up behind them and wave to the chinese television broadcast cameras .. hilarious eh!

Needless to say, I have skipped large parts of the story. You really can skip the first half and dive right into middle without missing anything. Better still, jump to the last page, take it back to the store and ask for your money back, because it was misfiled under SciFi, when it should have been in the Garbage bin.

Here's a tip, if you still insist on reading it, skip any parts where the character Jubal is directly involved. He adds nothing to the book (except that it his he who invents the power source), his speech is in pigeon-english, and it's not worth translating anyway.

About half-way through, one of the characters mentions, that this is like a 'Little Rascals' adventure. From what I know of LRs, Varley at least got that bit accurate.

4-0 out of 5 stars 'squozer' makes the story work
This is a very interesting story.The magic of the 'squozer' makes the story work.The developmentand flying of a rocket is good and complete, though I would doubt that anything so wild and crazy would work.The characters were real and lovable.It was a bit trite and predicable, but still a fun book to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lot's of fun and very insightful
I am an educated southerner whose father grew up in the rural south and have lived in Florida for 20 years. Much personal relevance.

Manny reminds me of me too. I remember those days of freedom and the cute girlfriend that made days seem like they would never end.

Great characters with some very nice insights and thoughts about space travel and the US space program; both its successes and FAILURES.

Good folks doing great things.

I loved it! ... Read more

9. The Golden Globe
by John Varley
Mass Market Paperback: 528 Pages (1999-09-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441006434
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Sparky Valentine makes his way from planet to planet as part of a motley theater troupe--the perfect guise for an interstellar con man wanted for murder.Amazon.com Review
Sparky Valentine is a former child star turned down-on-his-luck thespianwho's just reached the grand old age of 100.Not that you could tell bylooking at the old ham, who for some reason never seems to age--or stay outof trouble.Sparky's in the midst of a whirlwind theatrical tour designedto bring a bit of culture to the frozen desolation of the outer solarsystem when bad luck strikes in the form of a gumshoe hot on his tail. Sparky decides to skip the outer burgs for the more hospitable environs ofPluto, but things only get worse when he runs afoul of the notoriouslyunforgiving Charonese Mafia.As he's making his getaway, he learnssomething astonishing.The famous director Kaspara Polichinelli of Luna isplanning a performance of King Lear, and he's short a lead to take on thetitle role.Sparky wires Polichinelli that he'sinterested, and Polichinelli tells him the part is his.Now all Sparky hasto do is find a way to scrape together enough cash to get to Luna beforethe play starts while avoiding a seemingly unstoppable (and unkillable)Charonese hitman. --Craig E. Engler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (54)

4-0 out of 5 stars For a struggling actor in outer space
I was told John Varley was a good author. I looked over his inventory in Amazon, and just picked The Golden Globe on a whim.

I was interested from the start and was reminded of the sarcastic characters I've read in several Vonnegut novels. Also many of the sad back story that can made the main character act the way he does.
I enjoyed the book throughout and the ending was superb.
I immediately went to the author's first book The Ophiuchus Hotline. It was interesting that it was set in the same galaxy and Golden Globe had used many of the same locations and back story for the Golden Globe. That book wasn't as good as Golden Globe but was still good reading.
I've only read two of his novels and will probably try his trilogy next.

5-0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare in the orbit of Pluto
John Varley is a master. If you were to have a Rarebit Dream, a hallucination beyond the looking glass or be caught in a pseudo low blood sugar rapture you would not approach his fantastic metamorphing of the Bard.
His prose style is nearly as unique as Jack Vance, his characters transform themselves wonderfully, his stage is future nearly as crazy as our own dreams. I've given this toShakespeareansand they've loved it. It's not Nivenesque science tale, it's truly unique. Please enjoy.

4-0 out of 5 stars A fantastic writing style
I am a big fan of John Varley and I loved this book. The reason it gets four stars is because the story is a little weak. He doesn't explore any great dilemmas of the human condition, and the plot is mediocre.

However, the writing is fantastic. Varley clearly puts a lot of effort into every sentence to make it as entertaining as possible. In short, he makes me laugh.

This is one of the few books I have read more than once simply because he style of writing appeals to me so much.

5-0 out of 5 stars Shakepeare in Space!
In the future of Varley's book, almost everyone remembers Sparky
Valentine. Even if they aren't old enough to remember the glory years of the kid's show, "Sparky and His Gang" they remember their parents talking about it or watching old recordings. Many also remember something about allegations of a terrible crime, and may assume that Sparky is deceased, since they haven't heard anything about him in years.
But wait, here we have Sparky's autobiography, his epic story beginning
with his roots in a fifth generation theatrical family, his rise to riches, his fall from grace, and on and on through his long years of seedy outer-planet theatres, Punch & Judy shows and scams; hunger, keeping one step ahead of various planetary jurisdictions, then eventually running afoul of a dreaded crime syndicate.

This is rich, wonderful novel blends Shakespeare and Howdy Doody,
Jimmy Stewart and Errol Flynn; a heady mix of popular culture and future
history. The solar system is recovering from a mysterious invasion which
destroyed all human life on earth, but allowed off world colonies to survive.

Long time science fiction readers will appreciate the way Varley's story
incorporates one of the field's most influential and well-remembered icons.

5-0 out of 5 stars Re-Readable fun
I have found only 2 books that I could read time and time again. This book is a wonderful story. Not my normal fare, but a surprise. When I first picked this book up I had no idea what I was in for. It picks you up and will not put you down. About once every two years I find myself re-reading this book, and each time I enjoy it so.

If you are going on vacation and would like a good time, this book is a wonderful investment of your time and money.
... Read more

10. Steel Beach
by John Varley
Hardcover: Pages (2007)
-- used & new: US$29.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739487655
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
SFBC 50th Anniversary Collection ... Read more

Customer Reviews (48)

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting but tedious
Varley can be a compelling writer (I'm a big fan of Millennium and The Ophiuchi Hotline) but this novel needed a good edit.The basic plot, involving a schizophrenic computer that controls nearly every aspect of life on the moon, is ingenious, and Varley tosses off enough interesting ideas (routine sex changes, ultimate fighting championships that end in death followed by surgical resurrection) to populate a dozen novels.My complaint is that Varley allowed no philosophical thought to go unvoiced.We learn how his primary character feels about sex and sexuality, about religion, about politics (particularly a dissection of Heinlein libertarianism), about media, about technology, and on and on.Including some of these thoughts would have been fine, even necessary to the story, but ultimately the discourses on various topics became tedious.I made it to the end, but I wished the end had come 150 pages sooner, and the endless opinion-espousing (none of which offended me) was such a distraction that it impaired my enjoyment of the underlying story.

4-0 out of 5 stars I can explain why the last quarter of the book sucks...
This book is among Varley's best -- even though the ending sucks.I have a theory as to why the ending sucks.

Varley was a great writer, and successful, but he hadn't published anything for a decade before the publication of this book.

This novel was Varley's longest novel, and his most ambitious, trying to answer the deep and serious question "why go on living if one's life seems painful, pointless and depressing?"In the first 60 pages or so, the hero, who, at something like 200 years old, but outwardly healthy due to improvements in health care, nevertheless feels a helpless, suicidal ennui, and tries to take his own life.The central computer, that runs everything, breaks the rules, saves him.The reason the central computer saves him is that it needs his help.It has suppressed news that the remaining rump of humanity is in the midst of what may be an infectious epidemic of suicide, and the central computer is afraid it is catching the suicidal impulse.It reveals that several recent accidental disasters were really computer malfunctions -- signs of its infection with the suicidal funk.After the very promising two thirds of the novel I thought Varley was capable of writing a novel that offered a meaingful answer to this important question he raised.

My theory is that Varley started writing this excellent novel because he was himself feeling a suicidal ennui, and he thought writing this novel might help him kick that ennui.But it didn't work.I think he spent a considerable time, addressing this inherently depressing topic, but he didn't find an answer, got more depressed, and couldn't figure out a satisfactory way to finish the novel.

In my theory he lived on the dwindling royalties from his earlier works, and as they dwindled, he experienced financial pressure, which was also depressing, and some of his cynical fellow writers gave him some hints about how to give the mostly completed novel AN ending, even if it fell short of being satisfactory, because his finances could not afford spending any more time trying to draft a satisfactory ending.

I think the new plot element introduced two thirds of the way into the novel -- a cult of heinlein fans, who managed to live "off-the-grid", was crudely grafted into a fine, but unfinished work, just to bring it to conclusion.

There is an account of advice Gordon Dickson offered to Larry Niven about how to kill off all his dangling plot-lines in his "Known Space" works.Niven had grown tired of those novels, and was reacting grumpily to pressure to write more in the same vein.Dickson is supposed to have helped Niven draft a two page plot outline for a novel entitled "Down in Flames", that revealed a secret plot, that would result in the death of all his characters, and everyone else in the Galaxy.The plot outline is amusing.

I suspect Dickson, or someone similar, told Varley, "Jeez John -- you are going broke!You have made no progress trying to finish this masterpiece -- for years!You have go to finish it now.You know science fiction readers love Heinlein.They regard him as a god.Why not throw in a Deus ex Machina ending?Razzle-dazzle them with a loving tribute to Heinlein, and they will overlook your inability to answer the question about suicide.

Nicholas Monsarrat, CS Forester, and Patrick O'Brian all had the unfinished novels they were working on when they died published posthumously.I have no problem reading an unfinished novel, if it was by a really good author.

If you decide to read this novel, consider just tuning out the references to the Heinlein cult.

5-0 out of 5 stars Five stars is not enough
I believe that any list of the top five works of science fiction would be incomplete without Steel Beach.

The characters, as with all good Varley fiction, are achingly human.I don't recall ever reading a story story as richly imaginative as Steel Beach.The pacing is flawless.If I had to find some flaw with this book, the only one I could come up with is that it's a lone book and not part of a series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I have to say I've been a Varley fan since the the early 80's and this has to be his best stories ever. Everything in this book simply works for me.
the idea of mankind being booted from our homeland, barely surviving on the colonized worlds and of course on Luna.
Varley seems to have a great ability write female characters like no other male author can. We follow the main character through his/her sex change and he never skips a singe heart beat. the idea of how we evolved as a race it so well done.
Hats off to you Mr. Varley. We await your future works.

5-0 out of 5 stars Only Deserves Five Stars
About halfway through Steel Beach, I thought I had discovered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.The story was wildly inventive in a Douglas Adams sort of way; almost every page had some wonderfully crazy idea I'd never dreamed of.The action was non-stop, the world (well, the Moon) was varied and colorful, the characters engaging.Above all, it was a blast to read.I'd have given it six stars if I could.

By the end of the book, my enthusiasm had waned a bit.I won't go into plot specifics, since they have been summarized admirably in other reviews.Suffice it to say that the pace slows down in the second half, as the main character becomes more withdrawn and introspective.It fits the story line, and it does give the book greater psychological depth, but it tones down the fun factor, as well.

The result is a book that is still memorable and a delight to read.I'll just save the imaginary sixth star for another day.
... Read more

11. Mammoth
by John Varley
Paperback: 352 Pages (2006-05-30)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 044101335X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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An intact wooly mammoth is discovered frozen in Canada. Huddled next to the huge creature is the mummified body of a Stone Age man around 12,000 years old. And he is wearing a wristwatch. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mammoth Entertainment
The other reviewers have said it all; I only want to add this:I've been reading science-fiction for fifty years.John Varley's Mammoth is everything you want in a rousing good adventure.The cherry on top of the goody is Varley's sophisticated humorous point of view.Buy it!Read it!Period!

5-0 out of 5 stars Mammoth
This item was exactly as advertised.It arrived in very good condition and timely.

4-0 out of 5 stars A fine piece of writing
Multi-billionaire Howard Christian is an eccentric sort who likes to actually play with his toys. His latest obsession is to clone a woolly mammoth. During an expedition in northern Canada, an intact, but mummified mammoth is found. Huddled in the mammoth's fur is a Stone Age man approximately 12,000 years old...wearing a wristwatch.

Matthew Wright, science prodigy, is brought in to figure out what is in the metal suitcase clutched in the Stone Age man's arms. It's some sort of time machine, involving what look like many glass marbles. One day, Matt gets it to work, and takes himself, Susan Wright, who is taking care of a herd of elephants involved in the cloning plan, the elephants, and a Santa Monica warehouse, about 12,000 years in the past. After several days in the past, Matt gets the time machine to work again, and brings himself and Susan back to the present, along with a herd of half a dozen mastodons that happened to be nearby at the time. A baby mastodon, nicknamed Little Fuzzy, and Big Mama, his mother, are the only survivors when they appear in the middle of L.A. traffic.

Five years later, Little Fuzzy is the star of a multi-media extravaganza of a circus in Oregon. Susan is still his handler, because Little Fuzzy won't work with anyone else. She comes up with the idea of kidnapping Fuzzy, and freeing him in the wilds of northern Canada, where he could have something resembling a normal life. But Howard Christian is not about to let that happen.

Does any circus, no matter how progressive, automatically equal mistreating of animals? That's one of the questions explored in this fine piece of storytelling. It is more than just a really good time travel story, and it's well worth reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars He Forgot A Few Things
Varley has written some of the most moving SF stories I've ever read. Here he completely failed even to stir me. Yeah, I've been reading SF for about the last 50 years so I am familiar with just about any time-travel stories you'd care to name. But so has JV so what gives?

Even so, if you're going to write a puzzle-story, even a cruddy one, you need to be consistent.

Item: When they discovered the box had writing on the bottom, it was obvious to me that the person who had it in their hand could not be the one who wrote on it -- If they were sitting there writing while freezing to death they would write on the side facing them, the TOP, not bother to turn it over to the BOTTOM. Therefore that person took it from someone else who had actually done the writing. JV never thought of that.

Item: It was the SECOND box that was damaged in the break-in and finally taken back with them by Howard and Angela. The original was sitting in a vault at the Resurrection Tower. So why was Howard so ticked off? He had the time machine all along. And couldn't Matt work with Warburton to get the original functioning again, if they wanted to? What happened to that machine anyway? JV seems to have forgotten its existence.

Item: When Matt is in custody Howard tells him, "There was not supposed to be any brutality." That could only be true if Howard was giving the orders and hence was responsible for his incarceration. Later, at the dinner party, Howard tells him he had nothing to do with it, and everyone believes him, including Matt.

Item: There was no reason for the elephant-girl to plan the heist. None was given, either. JV just pulls it out of his hat. This is true of some other things, too, like the religious nuts who break in to the lab, or Matt's learning how to work the machine off-stage. Pulling things out of your hat is a huge no-no in SF. Everything is supposed to flow logically from the science-fictional premise. This brings me to...

Item: The blurbs casually mention Carl Hiaasen, the Florida writer. If you have ever read any Hiaasen, you know that all he ever does is pull things out of his hat, it is his stock in trade. This leads to reviews offering "...a rollicking good time!..." and such. Looking again, there it is, right on Mammoth's back cover: "...rollicking bittersweet tale...sparkling wit...unconventional..."

The real crime is that Hiaasen takes upon himself the mantle of Florida Writer or writer of Florida Fiction once earned by John D. MacDonald. Hiaasen even robs JD's plots, blatantly, then butchers them. He writes a good column in the Herald but someone should stop him from writing any more novels. As a native Minnesotan, he surely knows it is a sin to steal.

John D wrote three SF novels. He abandoned the genre, declaring it to be too easy! He said it was more challenging to set his novels and characters in the present-day, which everyone knows and recognizes, which meant you had to get it right. In SF you could invent any setting or character you wanted, he said. Carl, please take note. Get it right!

But back to Varley. Actually, the heck with Varley. He is getting old, has won all the awards there are, he's entitled to have a little fun if he wants to. He knows that the plot must resolve itself around the science-fictional elements of the story. The problem is, if he is not going to be serious how can we tell? We can't, not in advance. So we're stuck. Heinlein was the same way as he aged except in his case it became fiction that was totally self-referential. Anything and everything he ever wrote was published, it is up to us to separate the good from the dreck. "Bounce! Gay Deceiver!" Gimme a break.

William Tenn (Phillip Glass) wrote one of the funnest time-travel stories, "The Brooklyn Project." Try Bradbury's "Toynbee Convector" for another very original treatment. Fun too!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good near-future tale
Varley is one of the finest writers of tight, well-developed prose working today (just see the cover blurb from Tom Clancy), yet he doesn't get the credit he deserves because he writes in the "ghetto" of science fiction. Mammoth is about more than the obvious cover art would imply: Imagine one of the richest men in the world funding a project to find well-preserved mammoth remains, only to discover that almost perfect set of remains encased in ice. But next to it are the ancient remains of a man ... wearing a wristwatch.

Michael Crichton would have been happy to just have the mammoth story line. Varley isn't, and takes it several intruiging steps beyond what a "mainstream" writer would have attempted.

The pacing of this tale is tight. And the ending, which I thought had been telegraphed fifty pages before the book wrapped up, is much different than I expected.

Varley continues to be a writer of solid, thoughtful page-turners with a near-future flavor. ... Read more

12. The Ophiuchi Hotline
by John Varley
Hardcover: 180 Pages (1977)
-- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0028QCF52
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (18)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good Yarn
Varley is an outstanding writer. Not as much as a 'Superman' writer like Heinlein but similar in style.

3-0 out of 5 stars Typical 70s sci-fi novel
Being a huge fan of Sc-fi, I had to come around to reading a Varley book sometime. When reading the synopses of his collection of books, it seemed as if The Ophiuchi Hotline was one of his better novels, so I went out of my way to find one. The ideas in the book may have been original for 1978, but the idea has been refined to a sharper point nowadays. Also, being a 70s novel, there is a lot of pointless sex (not that all sex it pointless but it is especially so in 60s-70s sci-fi novels) and attempts at characterization through sexualization, which always a failure as it's transparent and a tad sleazy. Plot pace was steady though, including an entertaining mindtrip trying to follow the multiple existences of Lilo.

I'll give Varley another shot though.

1-0 out of 5 stars No wonder I don't read SF
I bought this book because of the synopsis, it sounded like such a good premise for a book.However, the book was nothing like the synopsis.I can deal with having to keep up with several different characters, but several different versions of the SAME character was a little much.I guess hard core SF readers think this book is the holy grail, but to me it was a waste of time and money.

5-0 out of 5 stars Varley's first book, and one of his best!
John Varley established himself as one of the important authors of speculative fiction in the US with this first work.In the same year as the first Star Wars film was released, Varley gave us this remarkable effort.Chapters are introduced with amusing capsule summaries at various levels of literacy (including references to comics and videos for the illiterate), ostensibly from the central computer, but the body of the story is told in natural, almost conversational language, making the startling ideas he presents seem all the more real and relevant.

A must-read for Varley fans, and a great introduction to his work for those who haven't experienced his writing.


5-0 out of 5 stars Reprinted, finally
It is nice to know this book is in reprint.Having been fasinated with the idea of cloning since I was child and having been a firm believer in it since reading this book at the tender age of 16 (along with RAH's 'Friday') I am glad to know this book is available to a new generation of Science Ficion readers.Yes, he does set up the Jovians as a sort of 'god', but I believe, based on mans history, if we had the chance we would 'over run' another planet, therefore setting ourselves up as some type of 'god' ... Read more

13. The Barbie Murders
by John Varley
Paperback: Pages (1980-09-01)
list price: US$2.25 -- used & new: US$108.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425045803
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Reviewing From Memory
"I am a bomb, said the bomb..."

Those are the opening words of "Bagatelle" the first of the stories in John Varley's, The Barbie Murders, which impressed me very much when I was a kid. I don't own a copy of it and I haven't reread it in many, many years, but the impressions that remain to me are of a truly wonderful book of short science fiction.

Varley is an articulate and very human science fiction writer. In a sense, he can be thought of as one of those writers who is `in between' by which I mean he is far enough back in time to write prose that is worth reading, while being close enough to the present to avoid the hackneyed storytelling and chiseled-jawed space opera of the Golden Age (if you don't know what I'm talking about, find and read any of E. E. "Doc" Smith's "Lensman" series).

As a writer whose best-known works appeared in the Seventies and Eighties, his concern with gender and gender roles (the Gaea Trilogy, the Barbie Murders), and technology (the Barbie Murders, the Ophiuchi hotline) are natural and well-handled. His speculative forays into implanted technologies, biological modification and other science-fiction technological themes are well integrated into stories that can often offer the reader subtle, intelligent subtexts (e.g., does religion itself create the possibility of sin?) and his work creates a natural background for the nihilistic science fiction that was to be written by the young, ambitious science-fiction authors of the eighty's cyberpunk genre like William Gibson, John Shirley and Bruce Sterling.

As I wrote before, I am reviewing from memory, but my memory tells me that the Barbie Murders is an excellent collection. Perhaps dated some thirty years after its first publication, but one with a characteristic that is too often lacking in a world where so much science fiction is so readily available: it has real staying power.

The Barbie Murders has writing and ideas that stick in the mind long after you've finished reading it and that is enough to make it special.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
According to the start of this book, it has also been called the Barbie Murders.Yet more of Varley's high quality burst of short fiction collected.No particular standouts, just overall above average to good work for the whole book, with nothing remotely in the ordinary range.

Some of the stories again are in settings used before, The Barbie Murders, etc.

A 3.67 average here, so rather good.

Picnic on Nearside : BAGATELLE - John Varley
Picnic on Nearside : THE FUNHOUSE EFFECT - John Varley
Picnic on Nearside : THE BARBIE MURDERS - John Varley
Picnic on Nearside : EQUINOCTIAL - John Varley
Picnic on Nearside : MANIKINS - John Varley
Picnic on Nearside : BEATNIK BAYOU - John Varley
Picnic on Nearside : GOOD-BYE ROBINSON CRUSOE - John Varley
Picnic on Nearside : LOLLIPOP AND THE TAR BABY - John Varley
Picnic on Nearside : PICNIC ON NEARSIDE - John Varley

An expert and the police have a cyborg turned into a nuclear bomb by terrorists to deal with.

4 out of 5

Hell's Snowball last trip Free-Birth hijack.

3.5 out of 5

Standard lookalikes hard to investigate.

4 out of 5

Engineer birth hunt Parameter Symbiote ennui Ringer alternative.

4 out of 5

Male parasite paranoia phantom pregnancy.

3.5 out of 5

Age specific education and punishment.

3.5 out of 5

Transplant Disneyland ghost shark shag shot cash fightback.

3.5 out of 5

Mother love hunt black hole sneaky convo.

3.5 out of 5

No change celibate old bloke chat conkout.

3.5 out of 5

4.5 out of 5

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but more variety would be nice
The stories in this collection are very enjoyable, and if you've read The Ophiuchi Hotline, some of them provide excellent background for that novel's characters and events, especially a great story featuringParameter-Solstice.I would have liked more variety between the stories,though.They're all set in Varley's "occupied Earth" universe,and while they have do have interesting plots, they contain the same themesin the background: sexual ambiguity, body manipulation, etc.I'd like tosee Varley move away from this general setting and try somethingdifferent.

I agree that this book should be put back in print, along withOphiuchi Hotline, Persistence of Vision, and a mass-market edition ofMillennium.It's hard to understand why Varley's best work is either outof print or in expensive trade editions, while his worst work (Steel Beach,Titan) is still available.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but very good anyway
I find Varley's short stories are generally better than his novels.The stories in The Barbie Murders are not quite his best (look for "The Persistance of Vision" -- also out of print) but still worth the time. Favorites:title story, Equinoctals, Picnic on Nearside.

5-0 out of 5 stars When is this book coming back into print?
When in God's name is this collection coming back into print?No wonder sf readers often have no sense of history when good, relatively recent stuff like this is unavailable. For shame. ... Read more

14. Persistence of Vision
by John Varley
Paperback: 316 Pages (1979)
-- used & new: US$137.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0440173116
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Dell mass paperback, 1st edition Aug. 1979, ISBN: 0440173116, 316 pages, cover art by Jim Burns. 12mo (7" x 4.25") Paperback reprint of 1978 The Dial Press/James Wade hardcover first edition. Winner, 1979 Locus Poll Award, Best Single Author Collection; 1980 Prix Apollo. UK edition retitled In the Hall of the Martian Kings. 9 stories, 6 of them belonging to the Eight Worlds universe. Introduction by Algis Budrys. Includes: The Phantom of Kansas [nominated, 1979 Hugo Award; 1979 Locus Poll Award, Best Novelette (Place: 4)]; Air Raid [basis of film and novel, Millennium]; Retrograde Summer [nominated, 1975 Nebula Award; 1975 Locus Poll Award, Best Novelette (Place: 4)]; The Black Hole Passes [1976 Locus Poll Award, Best Novelette (Place: 9)]; In the Hall of the Martian Kings [1976 Locus Poll Award, Best Novella (Place: 6); nominated, 1978 Hugo Award, 1978 Ditmar Award]; In the Bowl [1976 Locus Poll Award, Best Novelette (Place: 7); nominated, 1976 Nebula Award]; Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance [1977 Locus Poll Award, Best Novelette (Place: 3); nominated 1977 Hugo Award]; Overdrawn at the Memory Bank [1977 Locus Poll Award, Best Novelette (Place: 10)]; The Persistence of Vision [winner, 1976 Nebula Award, 1979 Locus Poll Award, 1979 Hugo Award]. ... Read more

15. The Persistence of Vision (Quantum Science Fiction)
by John Varley
Hardcover: 316 Pages (1978)
-- used & new: US$18.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0803768664
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Make sure you read the very last story!
Have you ever, sometime in your life, by any chance, heard of the multi-multi-multi-million copy bestselling author Tom Clancy? Well, when HE wants to be entertained by thoughtful, visionary, intelligent works of fiction -- which generally feature significantly fewer gratuitous explosions than his own work -- then he turns to one of his personal favorite authors, John Varley. "Persistence of Vision," in my humble opinion, is probably Varley's most accessible, yet amazing book.

The stories all feature characters in a remote future, in which everything about the human body, and everything about human society, is completely mutable and within the ability of individuals to choose for themselves. John Varley writes about sympathetic human beings, dealing with what seem to them to be fairly run-of-the-mill problems. To you or me, however, everything about the lives of these characters is simply awe-inspiring... Here you will meet lonely spacemen dwelling at the outer reaches of the solar system; sociological musings on the long-lost institution of the "nuclear family," by future, human inhabitants of Mercury; conversations between an explorer/composer and his alien symbiote, amongst the rings of Saturn; and much, much more. The last tale in the volume, the one the book is named after, is particularly memorable. It features a man who becomes part of a colony of deaf-mute-blind people, who have developed a highly spiritual means of communicating. That story is the most profound one in this collection, but they are all stirring. I highly recommend reading "The Persistence of Vision." Two thumbs up.

5-0 out of 5 stars An enjoying evening while expanding your mind
Short stories are many, yet few good inbetween.This is by far the best out of one person put all in one book I have ever read in all my years of run on sentences of my own, not his.The depth and sincerity of the heroes/heroines brings it all home.You're there, the only place Varley wants you to be.I would rate this his best, but I am also biased.I love ALL his work.I recommend them all aslo. ... Read more

16. Superheroes
by John Varley, Mainhardt
Paperback: 369 Pages (1996-01-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$12.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441003079
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A science fiction superhero anthology features Alan Dean Foster's ""Earth Spirit,"" Roger Zelazny's ""Hugh Glass,"" Lawrence Watt-Evans's ""Captain Cosmos,"" Michael A. Stackpole's ""Revenant,"" and John Varley's ""Bolshoiman."" Reprint. AB. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Super Reader
Varley admits in his introduction that is is not really very familiar with this sort of thing, and it would appear to show in the result. The story average is 3.28.

So, a lot of average/ordinary, and a small number that flat out really don't belong.

Still, it is buy no means bad, and some good stories, just average taken as a whole, and without the shouldn't have been there stuff, would have gotten a 3.5.

Superheroes : 01 A Clean Sweep - Laurell K. Hamilton
Superheroes : 02 Time for a Hero - Brian M. Thomsen
Superheroes : 03 Peer Review - Michael A. Stackpole
Superheroes : 04 Shadow Storm - Mickey Zucker Reichert
Superheroes : 05 Empowered - Alan Dean Foster
Superheroes : 06 Handling On the Goggles - B. W. Clough
Superheroes : 07 She Who Might Be Obayed - Roland J. Green and Frieda A. Murray
Superheroes : 08 And the Sea Shall Cast Him Out - William Marden
Superheroes : 09 The Defender of Central Park - Josepha Sherman
Superheroes : 10 Reflected Glory - Paul Kupperberg
Superheroes : 11 Super Acorns - Mike Resnick and Lawrence Schimel

Superheroes : 12 Vets - Richard Lee Byers
Superheroes : 13 Four Tales of Many Names - Gerald Hausman
Superheroes : 14 The Long Crawl of Hugh Glass - Roger Zelazny
Superheroes : 15 God Save the King - P. J. Beese and Todd Cameron Hamilton
Superheroes : 16 Contract Hit - Richard A. Knaak
Superheroes : 17 Origin Story - Dwight R. Decker
Superheroes : 18 Tu Quoque - John DeChancie
Superheroes : 19 Theme Music Man - Jody Lynn Nye
Superheroes : 20 Bicycle Superhero - Dennis O'Neil
Superheroes : 21 Captain Asimov - Steve Antczak
Superheroes : 22 Press Conference - Brad Linaweaver
Superheroes : 23 Basic Training - Jerry Bingham
Superheroes : 24 One of the Boys - Lawrence Watt-Evans
Superheroes : 25 Truth Justice and the Politically Correct Socialist Path - John Varley

Captain Housework is out of dirty villains, and left with dirty dishes and floors.

3 out of 5

Psychologically invented hero for dirty bomb job.

4 out of 5

An outlaw hero is called to account for his actions while removing a boy from a compound at the request of his father and the boy himself, to enable the boy to give a life-giving biological donation to his dying sister.

4.5 out of 5

A girl forced to live with her mother and her bastard new abusive man discovers the real father she actually likes is a superhero.

3.5 out of 5

A new hero decides he'd rather avoid lawyers, insurance and the media by relocation.

3 out of 5

A granddaughter cleaning up and going to throw out some old books is reprimanded by her grandfather, the owner.

He explains why via his teleportation ring.

3.5 out of 5

A woman has the Voice and tries to help other females.

3 out of 5

A torrid affair between a Sun hero and a Sea villain at the Extraodinary Talents Haven island.

3.5 out of 5

Russian forest spirit not too impressed with city recreation area, but thinks crimefighting violence should be loads of fun.

3 out of 5

Superman vigilante saves a publicist who then works for him, and his take no prisoners style rubs off when he decides he has had enough killing and wants to hang up the costume.

4 out of 5

Doctor for superkids tells his mum it is boring.

2.5 out of 5

Don't cheat on your stressed out overworked superhero husband unless cremation is your preferred form of funeral.

3.5 out of 5

Native American hero fables.

3 out of 5

Man mauled by bear shows extraordinary endurance.

3 out of 5

Arthur would now rather work at tax office than put up with Merlin's stuff, suggests finding a new bloke.

3.5 out of 5

City mayors treat superheroes and villains like baseball players it seems, complete with sidekicks to be named later.

4 out of 5

The opportunity to be Captain Swastika is not very appealing, despite the powers.

3.5 out of 5

Defeated alien race have infiltrators on earth with a breeding program involving humans to try and eventually recapture their home galaxy. However, their enemies have found them.

3.5 out of 5

Petty superpower occasionally useful, even in a dangerous situation like a bank robbery.

3 out of 5

Car chase and other heroic acts are all in his mind.

2.5 out of 5

A robot gets heroic, even in costume, briefly.

3 out of 5

The conflict between two superhumans has destroyed a city, leaving the President powerless to do anything, and then more of them turn up.

4 out of 5

Once in a decade harsh, pointless test.

2.5 out of 5

A woman on the trail of a secret identity finds out that an alien hero keeps to himself for very good reasons.

3.5 out of 5

Alien boy lands in the Soviet Union, becomes a good, but really dumb dob in anyone type communist. Basically ends up in prison a lot.

3 out of 5

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is SUPER, Man!
An original and entertaining take on the popular "superhero" fantasy -- and what a cast of characters! Captain Housework! And how about that pediatrician who cares for superheroes' children? And the one with the child with the abusive stepfather and a real father who's a superhero is the COOLEST beans! And I loved that Soviet "Superman" spoof -- Kyril Kentarovsky instead of Clark Kent! I laughed so hard I nearly burst a vein!
One little quibble. I wasn't so crazy about the fact that, in the aforementioned Russian Superman spoof, Kyril Kentarovsky referred to a prison rape victim as the inmates' "unwilling sweetheart." The author should have said "sex partner" or "boy-toy" instead of "sweetheart." "Sweetheart" means something, and it isn't this. The word sweetheart, to me, is associated with love, (which could be either heterosexual or same-sex),not violence or force. If someone is your "sweetheart," you don't abuse him or her.
Still in all, this book is all that and a bag of chips -- or, in reference to pop culture's #1 fantasy superhero -- this book is all that and a king-sized CLARK Bar!!!...

1-0 out of 5 stars This Book Is Out of Print For A Reason
This anthology of superhero stories tries to explore unique variation of the superhero theme but few of the stories are remotely satisfying.The biggest problem with them is that they are often one-trick ponies that ask a single "what-if" question and then go about answering it with varying degrees of success.Also, the choice of superheroes leaves something to be desired.With Superman, Spiderman and Batman taken, the writers focus on second and third-string crime fighters that can only be used as punchlines.

The best story of the group is "Reflected Glory" about a public relations executive that helps guide the world's first superhero, Ultima, through the maze of endorsements, merchandizing contracts and image management decisions.This story is the most realistic exploration of how a superhero might be treated if he actually appeared.Although ahumorous story, the problems of spin control and public perception are treated seriously throughout.

Surprisingly, the most moving stories in the anthology are those that aren't even about superheroes.Both "The Long Crawl of Hugh Glass" and "Basic Training" are about Native Americans and the former is even a true story.

Most of the other stories simply ask a single "what-if" question and thenrun it into the ground."Peer Review" explores the ramifications of a superhero review board that examines the questionable acts of fellow superheroes.In "Empowered", a superhero is sued after preventing a robbery and decides to give up his crime fighting career entirely."Super Acorns" asks what would life be like for a doctor that had to tend to superheroes, their children and the constant injuries that accompany a life of crime fighting."Contract Hit" asks what if superheroes and villains were like sports teams that could be traded between cities."Origin Stories" explores the reactions to regular citizens offered the chance to become a superhero but they are forced to fight crime as Captain Swastika."Captain Asimov" asks what if a robot rejected Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

"Handing On The Goggles" and "She Who Might Be Obeyed" are dated feminist stories.The latter is apparently a response to the belief that women sacrifice too much of themselves for others.The hero of the story has the power to get people to do what she wants but only when her requests are for the benefit of someone else.After teaming up with other women with the same power, she learns that her power actually works more effectively when her requests are selfish.

The others center their story around some of the most absurd superheroes imaginable."A Clean Sweep" is about Captain Housework, a down and out superhero that resorts to being and on-call maid."Defender of Central Park" involves a tree spirit from Russia and "Theme Music Man" just hangs out at crime scenes and provides the theme music for other, more respected superheroes.

These may seem like cool little stories by reading the summaries but they end up being one-joke ponies that get run into the ground after a few pages.The editor of the book wrote one of the stories and it appears that he just got his buddies together to get enough stories for an "anthology".

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Book with some exceptional stories
When I first read this book, i had checked it out of the library. I liked it so much i decided that I had to buy it. It has some great stories. Some aren't exactly what you might expect but that makes they even better. A must read for all comic readers and sci-fi fans.

4-0 out of 5 stars Many stories; most good

17. The Gaean Trilogy: Titan, Wizard, and Demon
by John Varley
Paperback: Pages (1984)

Asin: B002NBLPM6
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Isaac Asimov has compared Varley to the young Robert Heinlein; Roger Zelazny calls him a "mind grabber"; Richard Lupoff calls him "without question the most important new talent to emerge in years" . . .-- from the back cover ... Read more

18. Titan, Book Club Edition (Gaea)
by John Varley
Hardcover: Pages (1979)
-- used & new: US$14.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003XCVAEC
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19. Picnic On Nearside
by John Varley
Paperback: Pages (1984-08-01)
list price: US$2.95
Isbn: 0425071200
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag of misanthropy, male-bashing and brilliance
Varley can be an incredible author, when he reins in his hatred of humanity and men in particular.Unfortunately, he doesn't always succeed here.Beyond that, as fun and kaleidoscopic as his work is, it's missing something ineffable -- a soul if you will.Varley tears down the redwood of humanity and with its naked timbers he constructs...a gaudy shack.But enough of my irrelevant psychobabble.Let's take a look at his short stories, taking place in and around Luna 300 years or so in the future.

Bagatelle.A disgruntled misfit turns himself into an atomic bomb; it's up to the intrepid A.L.Bach to stop him.Varley uses a cheap trick in this story that I must point out: Bach falls asleep and dreams that the bomb has exploded.Then she wakes up and Wow, what an awful dream! Then she proceeds to defuse the bomb.I don't like being tricked; Heinlein would have said that it's the equivalent of ending a story by writing "and the little boy fell out of bed and woke up." Okay, it's not quite that bad, but it's not appreciated (actually, Varley actually DOES pull the Heinlein stunt in "The Funhouse Effect").Score: Satisfactory.

The Funhouse Effect.Boy is hypnotized to think that an asteroid cruise ship is being taken over by militants; various hijinks ensue.This story reminded me of "Total Recall" in its plot device.As I mentioned, Varley actually has the audacity to pull Heinlein's stunt of "and the little boy fell out of bed and woke up." But audacity has always been Varley's strong suit.Just look at the first sentence of "Steel Beach." Rating: Satisfactory.

The Barbie Murders.Ms Bach has to track down a killer living among a cult of identical females.Even though Varley seems to ride this storyline only to offer the trite observation that sin is so craved by humans it must be created, it's still so interesting I have to give it a Good rating.

Equinoctial.Interesting story of a human-alien symbiote bushwhacked out in the rings of Saturn, and her search for her children.Despite its religion-bashing undertones, this is the best story of the bunch.Varley shows us humanism in a very unexpected place.Rating: Very Good.

Manikins.A female shrink interviews a man-killer who is so convincing the shrink deludes herself into thinking the maniac is telling the truth about men's private parts being parasites.At least, that's what I think the story is about.To me, it seems more a feminist hate rant.Rating: Unsatisfactory.

Beatnik Bayou.Boy encounters difficulties adjusting to a new teacher; gets in trouble unexpectedly.Interesting ideas, sort of mushy plot.Rating: Good.

Good-by Robinson Caruso.Man, regressing to boyhood on a tropical island facsimile, is nearly killed by unexpected technical difficulty.Interesting yarn.Rating: Good.

Lollipop and the Tar Baby.Cloned "daughter" deep in space is told by a black hole that her mother is going to kill her.She decides to strike first.For some indescribable reason, I really liked this story.Rating: Excellent.

Picnic on Nearside.Boy and his friend ditch home, go live with hermit in an abandoned part of the Moon.Pretty good yarn, but Varley riding his anti-clerical horse gets a little old.Once again we're treated to the observation that people crave sin.Rating: Satisfactory.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag of misanthropy, male-bashing and brilliance
Varley can be an incredible author, when he reigns in his hatred of humanity and men in particular.Unfortunately, he doesn't always succeed here.Beyond that, as fun and kaleidoscopic as his work is, it's missing something ineffable --a soul if you will.Varley tears down the redwood of humanity and with its naked timbers he constructs...a gaudy shack.But enough of my irrelevant psychobabble.Let's take a look at his short stories, taking place in and around Luna 300 years or so in the future.

Bagatelle.A disgruntled misfit turns himself into an atomic bomb; it's up to the intrepid A.L. Bach to stop him.Varley uses a cheap trick in this story that I *must* point out: Bach falls asleep and dreams that the bomb has exploded.Then she wakes up and Wow, what an awful dream!Then she proceeds to defuse the bomb.I don't like being tricked; Heinlein would have said that it's the equivalent of ending a story by writing "and the little boy fell out of bed and woke up."Okay, it's not quite that bad, but it's not appreciated (actually, Varley actually DOES pull the Heinlein stunt in "The Funhouse Effect").Score: Satisfactory.

The Funhouse Effect.Boy is hypnotized to think that an asteroid cruise ship is being taken over by militants; various hijinks ensue.This story reminded me of "Total Recall" in its plot device.As I mentioned, Varley actually has the audacity to pull Heinlein's stunt of "and the little boy fell out of bed and woke up."But audacity has always been Varley's strong suit.Just look at the first sentence of "Steel Beach."Rating: Satisfactory.

The Barbie Murders.Ms. Bach has to track down a killer living among a cult of identical females.Even though Varley seems to ride this storyline only to offer the trite observation that sin is so craved by humans it must be created, it's still so interesting I have to give it a Good rating.

Equinoctial.Interesting story of a human-alien symbiote bushwhacked out in the rings of Saturn, and her search for her children.Despite its religion-bashing undertones, this is the best story of the bunch.Varley shows us humanism in a very unexpected place.Rating: Very Good.

Manikins.A female shrink interviews a man-killer who is so convincing the shrink deludes herself into thinking the maniac is telling the truth about men's private parts being parasites.At least, that's what I think the story is about.To me, it seems more a feminist hate rant.Rating: Unsatisfactory.

Beatnik Bayou.Boy encounters difficulties adjusting to a new teacher; gets in trouble unexpectedly.Interesting ideas, sort of mushy plot.Rating: Good.

Good-by Robinson Caruso.Man, regressing to boyhood on a tropical island facsimile, is nearly killed by unexpected technical difficulty.Interesting yarn.Rating: Good.

Lollipop and the Tar Baby.Cloned "daughter" deep in space is told by a black hole that her mother is going to kill her.She decides to strike first.For some indescribable reason, I really liked this story.Rating: Excellent.

Picnic on Nearside.Boy and his friend ditch home, go live with hermit in an abandoned part of the Moon.Pretty good yarn, but Varley riding his anti-clerical horse gets a little old.Once again we're treated to the observation that people crave sin. Rating: Satisfactory.

5-0 out of 5 stars Publishers need to get a clue
Varley is one of the greatest writers of SF of the last 20 years. Why is it that major book publishers let what amount to classic short stories go out of print?! Shame on you! If you can find a used copy of this book, buyit! You will not be disappointed, Varley's vision of the future is sharp,haunting, and intelligent! ... Read more

20. James Holmes And John Varley (1894)
by Alfred Thomas Story
 Paperback: 318 Pages (2010-09-10)
list price: US$24.76 -- used & new: US$23.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1166607089
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Product Description
This scarce antiquarian book is a selection from Kessinger Publishing’s Legacy Reprint Series. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment to protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature. Kessinger Publishing is the place to find hundreds of thousands of rare and hard-to-find books with something of interest for everyone! ... Read more

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