bookrev: Paragaea by Chris Roberson
Paragaea is an enjoyable story with likeable characters, vivid imagery and enough homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs and other “pulp” fantasy/scifi authors to fill many volumes (and hopefully Mr. Roberson will do just that)…and also to make me want to go re-peruse my own personal library of the ERB Mars/Barsoom series, Pellucidar, and At the Earth’s Core. Paragaea is of this ilk: short quick chapters, action, adventure and quests; sometimes predictable, frequently mixing fantasy with scifi, always enjoyable.
The subtitle is “A Planetary Romance”, which gives away a little of the plot. Leena is a female cosmonaut, whose mission is interruptted by her space capsule encountering a worm hole, which transports her to the parallel world a Paragaea. Here she is befriended by Hieronymous Bonaventure, an English sailor from the 1700’s who got to Paragaea in similar fashion, and Balam, a jaguar metaman (jaguar features, human intellect and language). Together they set off on a quest to determine how to return Leena to her proper time in the Soviet Union, so that she can faithfully report to her superiors the discovery of this new world.
On their quest, they travel all over Paragaea (the map of which looks remarkably like the six continents of our world before the continental drift or shift), following up on information that may lead them to someone who knows how to construct a wormhole to get Leena home. Among many amazing species of creatures, they meet Benu, an artificial life form who was created by the Wizard Kings of Atla to roam Paragaea and report back all he has learned every millinium or so.
Though the quest is long and their encounters many, Mr. Roberson keeps the adventures fresh by weaving together the back stories of Balam, Hero, Leena and Benu, all of whom have some tragedy in their personal history, most of which is again encountered along the way (no spoilers here).
I’ve read one other of Chris’ works (Here, There and Everywhere) and the novels has many characteristics in common (not to mention a Bonaventure): a series of mini-adventures that at first seem unrelated which are tied back together; wormholes; parallel universes, some populated with non-homo sapien creatures, and some form of quest.
And the ever interesting Author’s notes at the end, where Mr. Roberson gives aways some of his “easter eggs” and his thoughts while writing the book (I do enjoy these). (Spoiler Alert!) Some of his easter eggs are obvious (Atla = Atlantis), and some I worry are the product of my own warped imagination (at the “crotch” of the River Pison on the Paragaea map is a town called “Theman). But looking out for them just makes an enjoyable read more fun.