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Great Sky Woman by Steven Barnes

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  • ravenadal
    Great Sky Woman by Steven Barnes One World/Ballantine Books, July 2006 $24.95, ISBN 0-345-45900-8 The latest offering from speculative fiction writer Steven
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 6, 2009
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      Great Sky Woman by Steven Barnes One World/Ballantine Books, July 2006 $24.95, ISBN





      0-345-45900-8

      The latest offering from speculative fiction
      writer Steven Barnes is set in prehistoric Africa and is the first of two novels about the Ibandi, a tribe of hunter-gatherers. In this first installment, the Ibandi live in the plains near Mount Kilimanjaro. Frog Hopping, a boy, longs to become a great hunter. T'Cori, an abandoned girl, is apprentice to the tribe's medicine woman. After centuries of peaceful coexistence with other groups, the Ibandi face possible annihilation at the hands of the Herculean, genocidal Mk*tk. The survival of the tribe ultimately depends on Frog and T'Cori.

      Great Sky Woman may have particular resonance for African American readers, helping us imagine the history (and prehistory) we lost when we were dragged to this land. But the novel doesn't just recall far-gone epochs. Given the genocide that has bloodied Africa in recent years, Great Sky Woman also speaks to our time.

      No matter how much the world inside a fantasy or science fiction novel differs from our own, it is always similar in fundamental ways. After all, what writers of such books know about humanity and life, they know from riving in this world.

      While Barnes manages his narrative rather well on a macro level, there are flaws at the micro level. Too often, he tells us what a character is feeling, rather than showing us: "All night and day ... she had felt her anxiety threaten to swirl out of control." Dangling modifiers and cliches trouble some of the sentences. There's also an inconsistency--at one point, Barnes forgets that Frog's stepfather has only one eye: "There was some hidden fire in Snake's eyes."

      Despite these glitches, Great Sky Woman will not lose Barnes any fans. It will probably gain him some.

      --Reviewed by Dana Crum
    • Chris Hayden
      (I didn t care for this one at all. The second in the series, Shadow Valley, though I found flawed, was readable and even enjoyable on a certain level. I think
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 13 7:25 AM
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        (I didn't care for this one at all.

        The second in the series, Shadow Valley, though I found flawed, was readable and even enjoyable on a certain level.

        I think Steve had a tough job here--how to write a novel dealing with pre historic hunter gatherers--they got no agriculture, no towns or cities or even farms, no permanent settlements, no written language, no metallurgy--

        You got a bunch of characters in other words, whose main activity is getting enough to eat--not likely they engaged in much philosophy, though no doubt they had a culture

        Such as that of Kalahari bushmen, Amazonian rain forest dwellers or people in New Guinea.

        I was brought to mind of "The Song of Hiawatha" which dealt with people at the same level of development.

        I would read another book about the Ibandi--


        --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "ravenadal" <ravenadal@...> wrote:
        >
        > Great Sky Woman by Steven Barnes One World/Ballantine Books, July 2006 $24.95, ISBN
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > 0-345-45900-8
        >
        > The latest offering from speculative fiction
        > writer Steven Barnes is set in prehistoric Africa and is the first of two novels about the Ibandi, a tribe of hunter-gatherers. In this first installment, the Ibandi live in the plains near Mount Kilimanjaro. Frog Hopping, a boy, longs to become a great hunter. T'Cori, an abandoned girl, is apprentice to the tribe's medicine woman. After centuries of peaceful coexistence with other groups, the Ibandi face possible annihilation at the hands of the Herculean, genocidal Mk*tk. The survival of the tribe ultimately depends on Frog and T'Cori.
        >
        > Great Sky Woman may have particular resonance for African American readers, helping us imagine the history (and prehistory) we lost when we were dragged to this land. But the novel doesn't just recall far-gone epochs. Given the genocide that has bloodied Africa in recent years, Great Sky Woman also speaks to our time.
        >
        > No matter how much the world inside a fantasy or science fiction novel differs from our own, it is always similar in fundamental ways. After all, what writers of such books know about humanity and life, they know from riving in this world.
        >
        > While Barnes manages his narrative rather well on a macro level, there are flaws at the micro level. Too often, he tells us what a character is feeling, rather than showing us: "All night and day ... she had felt her anxiety threaten to swirl out of control." Dangling modifiers and cliches trouble some of the sentences. There's also an inconsistency--at one point, Barnes forgets that Frog's stepfather has only one eye: "There was some hidden fire in Snake's eyes."
        >
        > Despite these glitches, Great Sky Woman will not lose Barnes any fans. It will probably gain him some.
        >
        > --Reviewed by Dana Crum
        >
      • B. Smith
        I ll have to give the second one a look because I felt the same way as you do about the first. It was interesting but not very engaging.
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 16 11:00 AM
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          I'll have to give the second one a look because I felt the same way as you do about the first. It was interesting but not very engaging.

          --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Chris Hayden" <belsidus2000@...> wrote:
          >
          > (I didn't care for this one at all.
          >
          > The second in the series, Shadow Valley, though I found flawed, was readable and even enjoyable on a certain level.
          >
          > I think Steve had a tough job here--how to write a novel dealing with pre historic hunter gatherers--they got no agriculture, no towns or cities or even farms, no permanent settlements, no written language, no metallurgy--
          >
          > You got a bunch of characters in other words, whose main activity is getting enough to eat--not likely they engaged in much philosophy, though no doubt they had a culture
          >
          > Such as that of Kalahari bushmen, Amazonian rain forest dwellers or people in New Guinea.
          >
          > I was brought to mind of "The Song of Hiawatha" which dealt with people at the same level of development.
          >
          > I would read another book about the Ibandi--
          >
          >
          > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "ravenadal" <ravenadal@> wrote:
          > >
          > > Great Sky Woman by Steven Barnes One World/Ballantine Books, July 2006 $24.95, ISBN
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > 0-345-45900-8
          > >
          > > The latest offering from speculative fiction
          > > writer Steven Barnes is set in prehistoric Africa and is the first of two novels about the Ibandi, a tribe of hunter-gatherers. In this first installment, the Ibandi live in the plains near Mount Kilimanjaro. Frog Hopping, a boy, longs to become a great hunter. T'Cori, an abandoned girl, is apprentice to the tribe's medicine woman. After centuries of peaceful coexistence with other groups, the Ibandi face possible annihilation at the hands of the Herculean, genocidal Mk*tk. The survival of the tribe ultimately depends on Frog and T'Cori.
          > >
          > > Great Sky Woman may have particular resonance for African American readers, helping us imagine the history (and prehistory) we lost when we were dragged to this land. But the novel doesn't just recall far-gone epochs. Given the genocide that has bloodied Africa in recent years, Great Sky Woman also speaks to our time.
          > >
          > > No matter how much the world inside a fantasy or science fiction novel differs from our own, it is always similar in fundamental ways. After all, what writers of such books know about humanity and life, they know from riving in this world.
          > >
          > > While Barnes manages his narrative rather well on a macro level, there are flaws at the micro level. Too often, he tells us what a character is feeling, rather than showing us: "All night and day ... she had felt her anxiety threaten to swirl out of control." Dangling modifiers and cliches trouble some of the sentences. There's also an inconsistency--at one point, Barnes forgets that Frog's stepfather has only one eye: "There was some hidden fire in Snake's eyes."
          > >
          > > Despite these glitches, Great Sky Woman will not lose Barnes any fans. It will probably gain him some.
          > >
          > > --Reviewed by Dana Crum
          > >
          >
        • Chris Hayden
          (With the second (Shadow Valley) I got parts Clan of the Cave Bear, parts Tarzan (Edgar Rice Burroughs style) parts Imaro, parts suffused with his own
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 18 7:27 AM
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            (With the second (Shadow Valley) I got parts Clan of the Cave Bear, parts Tarzan (Edgar Rice Burroughs style) parts Imaro, parts suffused with his own philosophies, parts modern romance or erotica--I feel like Steve is firmly anchored in the pulp tradition--but we all know even real life is not as violent as a Conan story, mostly, and nothing can beat the 20th Century for violence

            I liked that the female character was strong and that females were shown as an integral part of the society and even dominant or essential to some of its workings--think he has something here with the Ibandi--

            Again, a difficult sell, the day to day life of hunter gatherers with no written language, few members, no towns, no metallurgy, no philosophy, only rudiments of culture as we enjoy it today

            He had to juice it up--but there is evidence that warfare, even between different ethnic groups then, was often more ceremonial

            The innovations of Chaka Zulu--close quarter war, maximum slaughter inflicted on the losers--came as a shock to much of that society

            Were there any African Stonehenges? The society that raised it was not much more advanced that the Ibandi---"

            --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "B. Smith" <daikaiju66@...> wrote:
            >
            > I'll have to give the second one a look because I felt the same way as you do about the first. It was interesting but not very engaging.
            >
            > ---
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