OVER THE EDGE Where Flinx and his flying minidrag Pip went, trouble always followed--that law had governed their lives through years of unsought danger and galactic intrigue. Now an evil rich man was out to kidnap the minidrag for his personal zoo, and Flinx and Pip were on the run again--this time into uncharted space, on a random course they hoped would foil their pursuers.
The delightful characters and arcane world-building in Foster's latest Flinx novel (Flinx in Flux, etc.) should thrill the author's fans. While Foster's plotting lacks subtlety�most readers will be a step or three ahead of the characters�the ever more improbable predicaments in which interstellar adventurer Philip Flinx and his pet minidragon, Pip, find themselves prove invariably engaging. Events become especially strange when Flinx, fleeing a shady businessman who insists on buying Pip, explores an unnamed jungle world, quickly discovering that the planet's ecology is intensely interdependent. The few humans who long ago emigrated there survive by their wits and through the aid of the fascinating furcots, whose symbiotic relationship with the humans is, unfortunately, more pondered than explained. The planet and its various indigenous defenses prove useful to Flinx as he, Pip and several locals are pursued not only by the ruthless businessman but also by factions from previous books in the series, such as the ruthless AAnn. While the main cosmological discussion here�involving the possibility of a physical manifestation of evil�seems to exist mainly to set up a sequel, the joie de vivre with which Foster approaches each of Flinx's quandaries results in a robust space adventure. (Nov.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 30, 2002
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Excerpt from Mid-Flinx by Alan Dean Foster
If everyone's going to chase me, Flinx thought, I should've been born with eyes in the back of my head. Of course, in a sense, he had been.
He couldn't see behind himself. Not in the commonly accepted meaning of the term. Not visually. But he could "sense" behind him. Most sentient creatures generated patterns on the emotional level that Flinx could, from time to time, detect, descry, or perceive. Depending on the wildly variable sensitivity of his special talent, he could feel anger, fear, love, sorrow, pain, happiness, or simple contentment in others the way ordinary folk could feel heat or cold, slipperiness or stickiness, that which was sharp and that which was soft.
The emotional states of other beings prodded him with little jabs, twitches, icy notions in his brain. Sometimes they arrived on the doorstep of his mind as a gentle knock or comforting greeting, more often as a violent hammering he was unable, despite his most ardent efforts, to ignore.
For years he believed that any refining of his talent would be an improvement. He was no longer so sure. Increased sensitivity only exposed him to more and more personal distress and private upsets. He had discovered that the emotional spectrum was a roiling, violent, crowded, generally unpleasant place. When he was especially receptive, it washed over him in remorseless waves, battering and pounding at his own psyche, leaving scant room for feelings of his own. None of this was apparent to others. Years of practice enabled him to keep the turmoil inside his head locked up, hidden away, artfully concealed.
Much to his distress, as he matured it became harder instead of easier to maintain the masquerade.
Used to be that he could distance himself from the emotional projections of others by putting distance between himself and the rest of humanxkind. Now that he'd grown more sensitive still, that kind of peace came to him only in the depths of interstellar space itself.
His situation wasn't entirely hopeless. With advancing maturity had come the ability to shut out the majority of background low-level emotional emanations. Spousal ire directed silently at mates, the petty-squabbles of children, silent internalized hatreds, secret loves: he'd managed to reduce them all to a kind of perceptual static in the back of his mind. He couldn't completely relax in the company of others, but neither was his mind in constant turmoil. Where and when possible, he favored town over city, hamlet over town, country over hamlet, and wilderness over all.
Still, as his erratic control of his fickle talent improved, his worries only expanded, and he found himself plagued by new fears and uncertainties.
As he watched Pip slither silently across the oval glassine tabletop, hunting for fallen crumbs of salt and sugar, Flinx found himself wondering not for the first time where it would all stop. As he grew older and taller he continued to grow more sensitive. Would he someday be privy to the emotional state of insects? Perhaps a couple of distraught bacteria would eventually be all that was necessary to incite one of his recurring headaches.