Saturday, September 17, 2011

7th Sigma -- Steven Gould

Too bad the title Cowboys and Aliens was already taken, since it would have been a pretty good one for this book, except that there aren't many cowboys in evidence and maybe no aliens.

This novel is a an updated version of Kipling's Kim, which will be obvious to everybody who's read Kipling. Gould makes this very clear, and the protagonist is even named Kim(ble). The setting is the American Southwest after a strange event has returned it to something much like the frontier. The event is the appearance of the bugs, tiny creatures made of metal with no other purpose that we know if other than to devour more metal and produce more bugs. You wouldn't want to live around them if you had metal fillings in your teeth or a hip replacement or anything metal attached to your body. The bugs are confined to the dry southwest, so the rest of the world goes on pretty much as before.

Some people, however, choose to live in The Territory. Since there's no metal, life is reduced to a simple level. There are bandits, outlaws, farmers, ranchers, good people and bad. There are eramic knives and crossbows cardboard rifles that fire ceramic bullets. Two of the good people are Kim, who's a kid with a lot of potential. He falls in with Ruth, a sensi who's come to The Territory to open a dojo and teach aikido. Kim's a great pupil, and he becomes useful to the law in Gould's version of the Game.

The book's highly readable, if episodic, and it leaves a few questions unanswered at the end. So it must be the first of a series. It's clearly a YA novel even if it's not being marketed that way, but it's something anybody can enjoy. Check it out.

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