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Diverse characters bring range of cultures to life

Esther J. Cepeda on

On to science fiction.

Everything the author Peter Clines writes is pure fun. Clines is 48, a little geeky (OK, a lot geeky), and a certain type of reader (me!) will devour his books and feel like they were written by a brother from another mother.

His latest novel, "Paradox Bound," features Harry Pritchard, a female time-traveler. Give the guy props for writing this ode to the guarding of the promise of the American Dream before the "Doctor Who" people announced their first female Time Lord.

Harry (short for Harriet, of course) is the perfect mix of action hero and proper lady. Along with her co-protagonist Eli Teague, she takes readers through a steampunky, Illuminati-ish story that features a magical 1929 Model A car, a cadre of faceless (and murderous) goons and the race to preserve American liberty, all while rocking a tricorn hat.

Lastly, I reluctantly include "Artemis," the new space novel by Andy Weir, author of the blockbuster "The Martian."

I listened to the audiobook, which was read by the wonderful Rosario Dawson, during a long Thanksgiving car ride. My son and I thought it was terribly boring, but, admittedly, we only watched the theatrical version of "The Martian" and didn't read the original book, so it's tough to compare the two.

Because I didn't really care for the "Artemis" story, it's hard to recommend. But the book deserves a mention because it's destined to be a best-seller that features a protagonist who is not only a moon-dwelling immigrant, but a plucky young Saudi Arabia-born woman.

Yep, "plucky."

 

Jazz Bashara is poor but resourceful; a failed civil servant, a smuggler and, eventually, the team lead of the story's heist caper.

As one review put it, "Artemis" is rife with "leaden dialogue and repetitive narration. ... That may be fine for 'hard' science fiction fans who prioritize idea over execution, or who simply crave well-researched technical speculation presented as fiction."

But those of us who read for word craft and narrative might be better off waiting for the movie. Let's just hope Hollywood doesn't whitewash Bashara out of the picture.

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Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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