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5.0 out of 5 stars A minor SF classic, 21 May 2011
A. J. Poulter "AP" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wulfsyarn:A Mosiac (Paperback)
This is indeed 'Wulfs yarn' as it is narrated by an 'autoscribe' known as Wulf. He was designed as a translation tool, but being stranded for many centuries on a plant nuked during the War of Ignorance gave him the chance to learn on his own, until rescued and upgraded. But the novel is not about Wulf but the life of one Jon Wilberfoss.

In a galaxy teeming with life in many forms, the Gentle Order of St Francis runs contact missions and picks Jon Wilberfoss to captain a new contact ship, the Nightingale, able to accommodate all kinds of alien. Wulf tells us that something terrible happens to Wilberfoss and the Nightingale, but reveals things slowly, as we learn of Jon's history. Along with Wulf, the other main character is Lily, an autonurse, another relic of past space warfare. Less voluble than Wulf, her calm devotion to healing is a foil to the sometimes extravagant soul-searching and philosophising that Wulf enjoys.

It is difficult to find any faults with this novel. It has aged well, the technologies used capture a realistic flavour of the future. Yet religion is part of the mix and and does not sit oddly. Jon grows up on a poor agricultural world with a poisonous atmosphere. A complex network of clear plastic tunnels connect all the human habitats, large and small. Jon returns to this world after serving a prison sentence and decides to run home through this global tunnel network. A blowout that nearly kills him gives him the religious vision that inspires his choice of career.

The imagination of alien life is unparalleled. Jon's wife is a Talline, whose culture revolves around 'pectaniles', statues representing the male/female lifeforce. Tallines have a relaxed 'beachcomber' culture and exemplify a loosely anarchist lifestyle. While out with the Nightingale, Jon meets an alien the size of a mountain but controls his fear and learns to communicate with it. And there are many more aliens in the book...

This is not gung-ho space opera. Wulf's narration is discursive, to say the least, but ideas and emotional encounters pour forth, making this novel a minor classic.
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Wulfsyarn:A Mosiac
Wulfsyarn:A Mosiac by Phillip Mann (Paperback - 31 Dec. 1993)
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