Read Cascade Point by Timothy Zahn Free Online
Book Title: Cascade Point|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 2.61 MB
City - Country: No data
The author of the book: Timothy Zahn
Date of issue: April 15th 1987
ISBN 13: 9780671656331
Loaded: 1132 times
Reader ratings: 5.8
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I confess; I've read every Zahn book I could get my hands on. From the epic Thrawn Trilogy, which I've read countless times, to the hard-SF-mystery Night Train to Rigel, I've never ceased to be amazed by the raw talent this man has. His plots are intricate, mysterious, and best of all, believable. For a SF writer, that's quite an achievement. However, having now read Cascade Point and Other Stories twice, I can safely say that I've found my favorite Zahn book.
I have never been a huge fan of short stories; many writers just can't pull them off. Most big-name authors hardly try anymore. With a full-length novel, your plot has room to grow and stretch. Your characters are not static, they develop. With a short story, character development is basically out of the question-making it harder for author and reader to communicate. However, this collection of short stories changed my mind somewhat. Zahn's stark narrative and wealth of good ideas make this collection a joy to read.
The book starts off with the rough, apocalyptic, Burns-quoting "The Giftie Gie Us." The strange title, far from being an empty sci-fi phrase--"Zorba's Patch"--is a line from Burns' famous "To A Louse"--"O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us/To see oursels as others see us." The story takes place in post-WWIII Canada, where the horribly disfigured protagonist ekes out a living in the wilderness. He meets a blind woman, and she comes into his home and becomes his wife. The story unfolds slowly, and we can feel the quiet conflicting emotions of the main character. The story seems at first to not be supernatural at all, but the startling revelation at the end made me think more than any other story in this collection.
After that comes the head-scratching "Dreamsender." A very readable, if less than perfect, "first contact" story which shows Zahn's usual idea prowess.
"The Energy Crisis of 2215" was taut and suspenseful--elusive qualities in a short story--and bristled with real scientific terms. Only Zahn, with his MS in Physics, could have pulled this story off, and he does.
"Return to the Fold" is an imaginative, mental story, and the first in the book to really delve into the psyche. Not the last, however. The middle section was slightly incomprehensible, but the story overall was great and provided much food for thought.
"The Shadows of Evening" and "Not Always to the Strong" were classified as science fiction when they were written, would now fall solidly into the "fantasy" category. Both take place on the same world, which is stuck in the dark ages because a "shadow" grows around everything manmade. "Shadow warriors" are dedicated to eradicating them, but a new method arises and they are left obsolete. It's another interesting premise, but not quite up my alley. The protagonist is a little hard to get used to, with none of the mental subtlety I've come to expect.
"The Challenge" is quite obsolete now, but it's interesting how Zahn, writing a quarter century ago, foresaw the rise of internet games.
"The Cassandra" is another psychic story, about a race of people who experience debilitating visions of tragedy, and of one "cassandra" who saves his boss' life from a train wreck and then contemplates his place in the universe.
In "Dragon Pax," Zahn delves into the socio-political with great success. A young zealot swears to assassinate the "Dragonmaster" who rules his world, only to be caught and find that his captor is not who he seems. Instead, he is an old, fragile, dying man--not the expected tyrant. Zahn's "dragons" are the most innovative fantasy concept I've read in years, and sometimes it's hard to remember that Zahn is a SF author.
"Job Inaction" is a horror story of mundanity--a man finds his job of thirty-five years terminated because of a glitch, and the new job lottery system won't let him get it back. In a series of semi-hilarious plots, he blackmails the government bureaucrat in charge of the system into giving him his job back. Another great idea.
"Teamwork" is a strange duck. An entirely psychic story, it takes place entirely in the head of a schizophrenic person who has a job to do. This imaginative story is probably the most unique of the bunch.
"The Final Report on the Lifeline Experiment" is probably my favorite. Using sci-fi to address social issues is hardly new, but this story does it more adeptly than anything I've ever read. Using a telepath to see if fetuses are truly human? What an idea! This story, more than any of the others, got to the heart of its subject matter. An excellent, provocative, socially adept story about the perils of science and the mysterious tragedy of abortion.
"Cascade Point," the title story, is another gem. You can tell because it won the Hugo Award (1984, Best Novella.) This story, like "Energy Crisis," has a lot of scientific terms, and you can tell Zahn knows how to use them. Alone in this volume, Cascade Point does the impossible--develops its characters. This story reads like a full-length novel, and deserves to be one. Perhaps some day.
All in all, this book is definitely in my "all-time faves" folder. A diverse collection of the best from Zahn. Zahn's Hemingway-aping prose is fun, readable, and in its own way, lyrical. An excellent read.
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Read information about the authorTimothy Zahn attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died. Zahn never completed the doctorate. In 1975 he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and he became a professional writer. He and his wife Anna live in Bandon, Oregon. They have a son, Corwin Zahn.
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