Short works

Books : reviews

Ardath Mayhar.
Exile on Vlahil.
Doubleday. 1984

rating : 6 : unfinishable
review : 17 December 1998

Ila has been exiled by an oppressive Earth government to the uninhabited planet Vlahil. But it turns out to be inhabited after all, not by one but by two sentient races, and the peace is being threatened by a lost Earth scout crew.

I'm afraid I got no more than halfway through this before giving up. Not only did I say the Eight Deadly Words, I am pretty sure I know what will happen anyway: Ila will save the Vla and Ered from the evil Earthlings. I couldn't get involved, because Mayhar's customary dreamlike prose, which usually makes her books a pleasure to read, this time just made me go to sleep, because there was no underlying depth to the story.

Ardath Mayhar.
A Place of Silver Silence.
Millennium. 1988

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 28 June 1998

Xenologist Andraia was Linked with Josip when they were both ten. Now Josip is dead, grotesquely killed by aliens in a tragic misunderstanding. Andraia is devastated at the loss of her Link, and left xenophobic by her trauma of experiencing Josip's death through that very Link. As therapy, she is sent to the silent silver planet of Argent, gloriously free of alien intelligences, to prepare it for use as a weapons testing site. But she discovers there are intelligent natives -- small, silent, furred creatures missed by previous expeditions. So she must battle both her terror, and a traitor back home, to save the planet.

This is billed as a 'Young Adult' novel -- which explains its brevity, and the rather straightforward nature of the plot. Andraia succeeds rather too easily for my liking. But the prose has Mayhar's lyrical, almost dreamlike style, and the aliens' various silent communication techniques are interesting (but again, not covered in enough depth for me -- I wanted to know what that knotted rope poem was!).