- Mass Market Paperback: 316 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (3 July 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765347954
- ISBN-13: 978-0765347954
- Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 2.2 x 17.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,436,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Stonehenge Gate, The Mass Market Paperback – 3 Jul 2006
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
They call themselves The Four Horsemen! Four academics hang out at a poker game in Portales, New Mexico after some teaching/researching at the local university. Checking out some satellite images, they find a gate of sorts in the middle of the Sahara Desert and buried under a lot of sand. [Nope, we never go to England and see Stonehenge! Oh well!]
They decide to pool their resources and get there!
Similar in some ways to Stargate in plot, except these four people are getting the ride of their lives without help from the military or anything like that. Its very unbelievability is its best protection.
Now, the first half of the book moves a bit slowly as the author develops the characters, mostly narrated from the view of Will Stone, teacher and researcher, who is not exactly prepared for a large adventure.
Yes, I'm getting to it: The gate they find is a teleportation device to other planets. It seems these builders built a great civilization and somehow died out in some forgotten war a few millennia ago.
The whole story feels quite familiar with the weak character, the reluctant hero, some light romance and a heavy aspect of racial tension and war between the Whites and the Blacks, who seem to reliving their gods' myth: A black god and a white woman married and then warred.
Writing Style: The story does not really get to a final conclusion. We learn more about the builders but not much else. The racial storyline is not bad, but does not really get to a conclusion for me that resolves the war. I am happy to report that the slavery issue in that other world does eventually get resolved.
Also, the expression "he grabbed my arm" is used over and over again - kinda annoying!
Ram is the reluctant hero which Williamson builds up nicely. Really, he's the only character you can really relate to!
Bottom Line: Jack Williamson is part of the Golden Age pulp fiction writers. He wrote The Stonehenge Gate at the tender age of 97. He passed away in 2006, so this was his last novel! A pulpy adventure with aliens, robots and heroes who don't realize they actually are. Recommended for pulp readers!
Other Jack Williamson Writings:
Jack Williamson"s Classic Legion of Space Series the Cometeers
Five Science Fiction Stories by Jack Williamson (Unexpurgated Edition Halcyon Classics)
Dragon's Island and Other Stories (Five Star Speculative Fiction Series)
Really, really awful. I have to give Jack some props that he was still writing in his mid to late nineties, but this is totally unreadable. Phrases are reused over and over. And over... coincidences are way too much to be believed... giant leaps without any logic are made as to what is going on...
Well, you get the idea. Less than halfway through I started speed reading just to see how it ended, then gave up and looked at the last few pages. Still didn't quite know, but you know what? I didn't CARE how it ended.
Gives me no pleasure to give a bad review in this case, but move on to some of his other works, just avoid this one.
Despite all the drama in the action, the plague, the uprising, the escape, the returns, despite all that, I just never felt the sense of drama that a book gives when it wholly envelops the reader. So, it's a good read. Williamson handles words and characters well. I'm just not sure it merits a slice of my dwindling shelf space.
"The Stonehenge Gate" is narrated by Will Stone, an English professor at Eastern New Mexico University, in Portales (not coincidentally, the school and town where the author taught and lived for many years). Stone and three fellow teachers--Derek Ironcraft, a physicist and astronomer; Lupe Vargas, an archaeologist; and Ram Chenji, a linguistics and African history instructor, from Kenya--discover a mysterious, Stonehenge-like trilithon buried under the sands of the Sahara, and, after walking through the ancient archway, are transported to a series of planets many light-years distant. The four become separated, but ultimately explore a planet devastated by war, an empty world populated only by morphing robots, a frozen planet that was the home of the trilithon builders, and a world comprised of two continents: one inhabited by whites, the other an equatorial jungle land peopled by blacks. It is on this last planet that the bulk of Williamson's novel transpires, as Ram's arrival begins a series of race riots and the onset of a civil rights movement. That all-important "sense of wonder," which was of paramount importance when the author began his writing career before sci-fi's Golden Age, is evident to a great degree here, and the fact that many marvels go unexplained only adds to that sense of cosmic awe. Those readers who have followed Williamson's career over the decades may be a bit taken aback by the author's use of such words as "Internet" and "e-book" in this, his last work; as great an indicator as any of the longevity of the writer's career. Readers who have likewise absorbed other of the author's works may be pleasantly reminded of them as "The Stonehenge Gate" proceeds. The use of native drugs to elicit visions is highly reminiscent of scenes in 1980's "The Humanoid Touch," while the entire notion of excavating in the Sahara to find the remains of alien artifacts will remind many of similar sequences in 1962's "The Trial of Terra." Even Derek Ironcraft's name is reminiscent of a main character (Frank Ironsmith) in the author's most famous novel, 1949's "The Humanoids." But despite this, Williamson's final book is wholly original, and his four main characters are an extremely appealing bunch. Our narrator is especially convincing. Far from an action hero, this 57-year-old keeps telling us how much he wishes that he were back in his quiet library at home in Portales, and the trials that he is forced to undergo have a very credible impact on him.
Anyway, perhaps I am making too big a deal of the author's advanced age here, but honestly, how many people nudging toward the century mark could be expected to create a 316-page novel that is as fresh and fascinating as any sci-fi in the stores today? The novel in question here could most surely have served as Book #1 in a new blockbuster sci-fi series, but sadly, that was not to be. The world surely lost a man of limitless imagination with Jack Williamson's passing. Though his great body of works remains, the man will certainly be missed....