Wizard picks up about 80 years after the events in Titan Cirocco is now a Wizard for Gaea, meaning she s a troubleshooter Gaby is sometimes her sidekick, and sometimes just does freelance work They are both paid with extended lifespans Since Titan, plenty of humans have emigrated to Gaea There is a limited quota for free trips, and through this program, two new travelers, both prone to periodic seizures, arrive in Gaea One is Chris, a rather shy and geeky young man from Earth The other is Robin, who comes from an ultra radical sect of witches in the Wiccan sense living in a habitat on the far side of the Moon The sect is made up entirely of women, and holds men to be evil Robin has never met a man, and has some strange conceptions about them As they arrive, Gaea tells them that she can cure their ailments, as long as they do something heroic They join up with Cirocco and Gaby on a circumnavigation of the habitat wheel The wizard and her sidekick have a hidden agenda, though Gaea is becoming eversenile and crazy, and the two are looking for allies in a coming war against her.The adventures of Chris and Robin make for a coming of age tale of sorts The scenery is still wondrous, and Varley has added much to the richness of his world The prose is excellent and the characters are rich and alive Despite all that, I was still somewhat disappointed The story sets up the next and final book Demon , and develops the characters, but the plot isn t that interesting There seems to be little sense of where the story is headed While this is often the case in long sections of many Varley books, in this one there weren t any other really stellar bits to compensate Varley is never bad, but it was an ultimately unsatisfying read.http www.books.rosboch.net p 1450 I m really enjoying this trilogy You could put it in the humans explore vast space habitat category, in company with things like Rendezvous with Rama and Ringworld, but I think that misses the appeal of Varley s Gaea books Varley brings really weird shit to the table, as all SF should but hard SF sometimes underdelivers on In addition to blowing you away with exterior vistas, he s digging his hooks into your subconscious and unearthing some disturbing stuff On top of that, he s funny This series almost reminds me of Terry Pratchett s early SF like the not just a Ringworld spoof Strata , though Varley s work is much darker.Volume 1, Titan, covered the initial exploration and established the setup Wizard returns after a number of decades, where things appear relatively stable Gaea is recognized by the UN, and permits a certain number of human tourists and even immigrants, but plays with them in the same capricious way It s very different in feel from the first volume almost a little too peaceful and threatening, until you realize you re just being softened up before everything goes to hell It doesn t outstay its welcome, and sets the stage for a cataclysmic third volume, Demon, which I can t wait to read.The main attraction of Wizard is Varley s amazing ingenuity in creating new alien species The setup allows for some extremely improbable scenarios much like Strata again and he exploits this to the hilt blimps and submarines, buzz bombs, sand wraiths and the crown jewel, the centaur like Titanides, with their musical language and multiple sexual organs You ll learn a lot about the latter especially, because there is a lot of centaur sex in this book If you think you might be put off by lots of centaur sex, this is probably not the book for you Let s just say, where volume 1 comes with an accompanying map, volume 2 comes with a cheat sheet listing the 29 possible Titanide sexual ensembles He s equally imaginative with human societies of the near to medium future And the writing is terrific Hard boiled for the most part, but with the occasional gem thrown in Early on, our first glimpse of a Titanide She thundered down the seawall road, arms held out behind her like the silver lady on a Rolls Royce A lovely image and a useful one, compact and poetic. One Of The Greatest Science Fiction Epics Ever Written, John Varley S Titan, Wizard, And Demon Comprise A Groundbreaking Trilogy That Will Live Forever Human Explorers Have Entered The Sprawling Mind Of Gaea Now They Must Fight Her Will For She Is Much Too Powerfuland Definitely Insane These Books Are Going To Be Around For A Long Time Locus Probably around 3.5 stars, but rounded up to 4.Wizard picks up where Titan left off in its exploration of the nature of sexuality Gone are the frequent references to other works of science fiction, although the Greek mythology links are of course maintained This novel is unusual in that the majority of its main characters are women, with earth guy Chris thrown in as the token male to be used to contrast everything with Also introduced in this second book is Robin, a young woman from an all female space colony known as The Coven And yes, it is that kind of coven women looking to establish their own matriarchal society, free of the influence of men, who are envisioned by the women of the Coven as bogeymen It was slightly predictable that Chris Robin would be thrown together on Gaea so that we could watch them work out their prejudices with each other.This is very much a quest tale both Chris and Robin have genetic anomalies that are disrupting their lives in major ways and they have come to Gaea to see if they can be healed An audience with the Goddess reveals that there s no such thing as a free lunch Robert Heinlein would be pleased and that the two must get out into the world of Gaea and be heroic if they expect any assistance Their need to go do something is helped along when Cirocco the Wizard of the title and Gaby one of the main characters from the first volume offer to take them along on a long trip around the edges of Gaea, along with 4 of the centaur folk known as Titanides The reader is never allowed to forget that the Titanides have a very complex sexual life which they are absolutely pragmatic about none of the human hang ups concerning this essential part of life and some of them including one of the travel party sometimes become enamoured of humans Chris gets to be the lucky recipient of this attention as well.It definitely passes the Bechdel test there arethan two women humans , who talk to each other about many things besides men Despite this, our lesbian witch, Robin, does take one shot at the heterosexual side of the street Token guy, Chris, gets pushed into leadership in several places where he is just not qualified a nod perhaps to our society where, in hospitals, people ask for male unqualified interns when well qualified female doctors are on the scene By and large, it is a feminist novel however, Varley makes everything hinge on Chris in a way that, to my way of thinking, gives him undue influence, especially in sexual terms Thankfully, he actually realizes it in several places in the book, making me like him better for it.There s lots of action and danger as the travelers make their way around Gaea, which kept me reading just to see what happened I realize that sexuality was being explored, but it really did seem to keep taking over everyone s attention when they probably would have been better off looking for the next cliff predator large unfriendly body of water Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and will definitely read the last book in the trilogy. I love all three of the books in this trilogy equallybut I think this was better than Titan The first book in the trilogy changed pace from a space opera to a fantasy adventure book pretty suddenly, and it had to do all the work of setting the scene Wizard is a straight up adventure intrigue, and the scene s already set AND you get to find out about the Titanide s sexual makeup that s worth reading the book right there VERY strange species that Varley s come up with Varley doesn t just do a good job with fantastic planets, he s also made some very neat characters I think I liked and sympathized with everyone involved except the villain, of course , even when I wanted to slap them upside the head for being a tad STUPID about some random thing. I need to read this again I read it too fast Add Titanides to the list of fictional creatures I would not mind being.So I read this again recently This book is awesome It s got the Titanides who have multiple genitals and complicated mating methods based on music In fact their language is based on music, they sing, they play awesome musical instruments and they kick ass I kind of wish there wasabout them and less about the humans, though the human characters are cool You have Robin who comes from a hyper feminist world full of radical women She s tough and badass She has severe seizures You have gentle Chris who has manic episodes They come to Gaea to be cured Gaea tells them they have to go on an adventure and prove themselves.They encounter two characters from the last book Cirocco, who is depressed and an alcoholic from having the fate of the Titanides in her hands and Gaby, who is still in love with Cirocco With the help of the Titanides they go on a crazy adventure andWell, reading the book to find out what will happen is a great idea John Varley fills this book with strong, varied characters He s richly imaginative and manages to add queer characters without blowing a huge look at me, these characters are queer I m so progressive trumpet.So, if you want to read about centaur like creatures with multiple genitals I suggest buying his books directly from his site Start with Titan, the first book in the series and keep reading.12 31 19Read it again It s still damn good The characters, their development The setting Really you should read John Varley instead of osc He s good at making diverse, strong women who actually have personalities and don t just exist for men to drool over and Titanides continue to be one of the best aliens. One of the greatest science fiction epics ever written Well, no Not even close Some of it crosses over into into the very silly Buzz bomb for example what is this, a Dead Kennedys album Actually that might be weirdly appropriate, considering the musical communication between the centaurs This book contains a lot of good ideas, including the basic premise of a living ringworld, and the splintering personalities based on the distributed brain required for such a large organism It seems that Varley wants, especially towards the end, for us to feel sympathy for those rebelling against Gaea, but I found myself disliking the humansfor the destructive behavior that is so much in evidence in our current day The wanton destruction of species occurring right now paralleling what appears to be the forthcoming trajectory planned for the next book, i.e death of Gaea itself Then again, there is a lot of moral complexity in the book revealed through the various points of view, so probably Varley did that deliberately and is quite aware that his heroes are not necessarily all that heroic, depending on the point of view.The obsession with the sexual formations of the centaurs became a bit exhausting Varley even created a full diagram in the back of the book showing all 29 possible configurations called ensembles by which the Titanides can reproduce The amount of work he most have put into creating this diagram, along with the grouping and names, all based on musical modes could be seen as excessively prurient, or as an impressive level of world building expertise, and perhaps both are true My hornier, younger self might have found it all very titillating, but my older, cynical self finds it mostly quaint, tiring, and just a bit embarrassing.One of my other gripes is the unnecessary mentions of telepathy and ESP 3 total if I remember correctly , neither of which contributed to any substance to either the story or the world building, and since this book already blurs the science fiction heavily intomythic fantasy, I felt those elements would have been best left out, but that reflects a personal bias on part I find telepathy and ESP to be annoying cheats when it comes to science fiction, and even with my deep favorites such as Star Trek, I have never liked things such as Vulcan mind melds But this is a minor quibble.At its core, this is an epic quest fantasy, and Varley is not trying to hide that fact, since Gaea explicitly creates things to be quested after, and requires heroic deeds to gain her favor By that measure, this book delivers fairly well Not with Tolkien level skill, but still decent enough that I enjoyed the ride well enough There are character deaths, and there is character growth and depth There are serious conflicts and resolutions, but not with idealistic happiness Things are complicated.If goodreads allowed half star ratings and wouldn t it be nice if it did this would be a 3.5 for me, but following my rounding up rule, plus the fact it clearly gave me a lot to think about, it gets a reluctant 4 But to quote Public Enemy Don t believe the hype , especially that on the front cover which says most celebrated adventure since Dune This one issomewhere between Heinlein and Piers Anthony. Spoiler Alert Wizard is the second book of the Gaea Trilogy by John Varley.Just as Titan begins in a somewhat normal universe and escalates into an absurd universe, so Wizard picks up at the same gonzo level that Titan ended at and escalates into something evenabsurd.This book takes place roughly 75 years after the end of Titan and the two main characters return, Rocky Jones and Gaby Plauget When Gaea made Rocky the Wizard of Gaea, she also gave her certain powers to go with Rocky s new station Rocky can now talk to all of the creatures that live on the wheel, she has been given eternal youth, and she has been made the sole method of ferterilizing the Titanide s eggs, making her essentially responsible for the survival of the species Gaby, in order to remain on Gaea with Rocky, has had a tougher road She works for Gaea on a piecemeal basis, project by project, and her principal reward from Gaea is eternal youth, bit by bit She must constantly keep re earning her prize and is none too happy about it.Most of the novel, however, deals with two new characters and their exploits on the giant living body of Gaea Both of them are fairly young and both of them have incurable diseases It has been Gaea s policy for some time now to ask certain humans to come to her she calls them pilgrims to be cured But Gaea likes her good deeds to be a two way street you do something for me first and if I find you worthy, I ll cure everyone who has your disease The something that Gaea always demands is an act of heroism or death trying.The young man, Chris, has a disability where he temporarily goes insane and cannot recall his actions while gonzo When crazy, he can harm innocent people and has a bad problem with rape He always feels bad afterward, but what can you do He finally screws up his courage and decides to approach Gaea.The young woman, Robin the Nine Fingered, comes from a Coven of witches which lives in a habitat at the L2 LaGrange orbit of earth Long separated from other humans, these women have lived in Lesbian harmony for many years and recreated human culture from their own perspective All men are insane rapists running an earth where women are kept as sex slaves Human literature, which was all written by women, has been co opted to seem as if it was mostly written by men And so forth.Robin has a disease in which she periodically has intense siezures where she loses all control She has become a hateful, violent 19 year old who hopes eventually to have children, if Gaea can cure her She comes before Gaea with a serious attitude problem.These two unlikely characters are joined together with Rocky and Gaby on a cross Gaean trip hoping to find situations requiring heroism Those who have read Titan know that opportunities for heroism exist in abundance on Gaea, but so do the opportunities for death.And death does play a prominent role in this novel Varley pulls no punches in his descriptions.Like Titan, this novel is also largely picaresque as the foursome venture around the rim of Gaea, accompanied by four Titanides, one of which has fallen in love with Chris The Titanides are truly amazing creatures, created by Gaea because she wanted Centaurs All communications between them are sung and they a truly unique sexual perspective they are composed of one frontal sex and two rear sexes This novel is strictly for mature readers It contains graphic descriptions of Titanide sex and alien human sex.And finally, like Titan, it is a huge, sprawling, comic and yet deadly serious story about survival, godhood, humanity and heroism While it is possible to say that it is not quite as good as Titan, it is nonetheless a page turner and it does amaze and delight The scope is huge At his finest, John Varley is one of the most challenging, awe inspiring and shocking science fiction writers of the past thirty years.This book meets all of those criteria and I highly recomment it and the Gaea Trilogy to all mature fantasy sf readers. If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Sex and Buzz Bombs Wizard by John Varley Original Review, 1980 12 16 It introducescomplications into the plot of the TITAN series, and clears up some nagging items as well ever wonder what a satellite brain looks like What happens when tourism hits Gaea What composers does a Titanide like I just finished reading Wizard by John Varley at the cost of getting an incomplete in Philosophy because I was supposed to be writing a paper and of not studying for my Physics test tomorrow Wizard was better than Titan and The Ophuichi Hotline which are very good , but not as good as Varley s short stories which are great. There a lot to love in the second Gaia book I was honestly expecting a straight carryover from the first novel with its surprising end and lead, making the next title, Wizard, something muchthan I might have expected, but I was surprised Decades have passed in an eyeblink and Titan has turned herself into the goose that lays the golden eggs, opening up exploration and exploitation to her artificial moon Of course, with this fantastic alien landscape, there s the Titanides, the 29 times over ambisexual centaurs who like to do it every which way they can, even with humans, and killer blimps and vast and amazing adventurous locations full of glory and beauty None of it is really quite easy to exploit Nor do many people have the desire After all, Titan herself is a god or near enough, technologically, so as to be the utter master of her domain except for the twelve distributed ancient AI intelligences that make up her bulk Our captain is old but still looking young by this point, and since she s the Wizard and it s traditional to sing the Yellow Brick Road when they go on expeditions and status updates with all these distributed intelligences that are gods in their own rights, we re thrown into intrigue and a possible rebellion If you think all of this is pretty simple, think again The novel is rife with questions of sexuality and cultural weirdness and lesbianism and even eye rolling wackiness of a misinterpretation of rape that could only come out of a secluded orbital community of Wiccan lesbians who shun all men but import sperm to keep their numbers, drag one of their members out of the community, and put her into Gaia Let sparks fly Is this novel nothing but sex It feels like it It s not horrible tho It s weird Vastly weird The centaur aliens are nuts about it, and I m just thankful there s a cheat sheet in the book that breaks down all the coupling combinations And I thought that hind sex and frontal sex was confusing enough when there was a profusion of multiple sexual organs.From the standpoint of imagination and weirdness and worldbuilding and oddities, this book is brilliant and beautiful Even the questions regarding sex and perception were sometimes clever and insightful even when it sometimes became enraging.The fact is, for all its faults, this novel is fascinating and dense with goodies and is full of great ideas My personal meh about the underlying story may be just me Everything surrounding it is gorgeous.
Full name John Herbert Varley.John Varley was born in Austin, Texas He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, moved to Port Arthur in 1957, and graduated from Nederland High School He went to Michigan State University He has written several novels and numerous short stories.He has received both the Hugo and Nebula awards.
- 384 pages
- John Varley
- 12 August 2019 John Varley