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Paragaea: A Planetary Romance by Chris Roberson
Review by Paul Haggerty
Pyr Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 1591024404
Date: 02 May, 2006 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Akilina Mikhailovna Chirikov (Leena to those who don't want to spend an hour just saying hello) is the second woman to fly into orbit, and she's not prepared to let anything get in the way of completing her mission for mother Russia. Unfortunately, the universe cares little for the wants and demands of mere mortals. Shortly after achieving orbit, Leena's Vostok 7 rocket is swallowed up by a silvery mirrored sphere and vanishes from the world.

Whatever the thing was and whatever it did, the next thing Leena knows she's starting a reentry sequence over a strange new world. Fighting for her life against an automated system that was certainly never designed to take these things into account, Leena finally manages to take manual control of the rocket and ends up parachuting safely to the ground below. Safe that is, except for the river where she almost drowns. And the two-meter tall, heavily armed cat-men that, if she's lucky, just want to take her prisoner.

In true Barsoomian fashion, Leena is soon rescued by the daring former British Naval officer Hieronymus Bonaventure (Hero to his friends) and the exiled cat-man Prince Balam. From these she learns the ropes of the world and soon has the two companions agreeing to help her on her quest to find a way back to Earth.

What else could follow except a trip across the world, visiting all those intriguingly named spots on the map? There's not a lot of deep philosophy going on in this book, but once you start, it's hard to put down. Chris Roberson has done and excellent job of capturing the old world-storming adventures. The biggest difference is that he has actually thought this through and come up with reasonable explanations (if a bit thick on the hand waving physics part) for explaining why this place is natural and the way it is.

The book ends with possibilities for continued adventurers; a possibility I look forward to.

Oh, and it has zeppelins! How can you turn down a book with perky cosmonauts, super-science, cat-men, and zeppelins!

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